Prison administration threatens revocation of parole eligibility if sick inmate refuses to withdraw mistreatment complaints

A sick inmate in Afyon T-type Prison, notorious for mistreating prisoners, was allegedly told to withdraw complaints of mistreatment if he wanted to be released on parole, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Lütfi Koç, who suffers from a brain tumor, was severely beaten by prison guards in December. He sent a letter to the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee detailing the incident. The prison administration told Koç that his “good behavior report” would be revoked if he did not withdraw his complaint.

Good behavior reports are key for a prisoner to be eligible for parole.

In his letter Koç said he could not get proper healthcare in prison. “I suffer from bleeding, small strokes and unbearable headaches,” he said. “Although they take me to the hospital, the doctors don’t take me seriously and I have not been offered an effective treatment so far.”

According to Koç the doctors are well aware of the gravity of his condition but are too afraid to write a report recommending his release. “The doctors just tell me I need further observation. But I’ve already been threatened by the administration that only my dead body would leave the prison,” he said.

Koç was arrested for alleged membership in the Gülen movement and was denied release from prison despite serious health problems. He had worked for an educational institution that was associated with the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Koç also has a disabled son who needs round the clock care and who is looked after by his mother.

Family members of inmates in Afyon T-type Prison have claimed prison authorities subjected prisoners to mistreatment and psychological abuse.

The Human Rights Association (IHD) documented that inmates were subject to unlawful strip-search, beaten and prevented from seeing the prison doctor. Inmates especially complained about the warden, who allegedly forced them to strip and threatened them with beating if they refused to do so. Some inmates said they were subjected to falaka, the beating of the soles of the feet.

Moreover, the tap water was filthy and inmates were not allowed bottled water. Inmates were also not given basic hygiene products such as soap.

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