Prison guards refer to notorious torturer while mistreating inmates in SE Turkey


Prison guards in a Gaziantep prison allegedly beat inmates İlhami İşçi and Uğur Ürün over an argument, making reference to a military officer accused of brutally torturing Kurdish political prisoners following a 1980 coup in Turkey, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Friday.

“Do you know Esat Oktay Yıldıran?” the guards reportedly asked the prisoners, referring to the warden of the infamous Military Prison No. 5 in Diyarbakır after the September 1980 military coup.

The guards also made reference to Mehmet Ağar, a former interior minister whose time in office in the 1990s was also marred by allegations of torture and state-mafia entanglement.

“We will teach you what torture is,” the guards reportedly told the inmates, placing them in one-person cells.

Yakup Doğan, a lawyer representing İşçi said prison doctors refused to document his injuries.

According to Doğan, the warden told the inmates that they would face disciplinary actions if they filed complaints, offering to send them back to their old wards if they agreed to cover up the incident.

The lawyer announced that they have filed criminal complaints and will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

The name of Esat Oktay Yıldıran came to prominence in late 2023, when public controversy erupted over a revelation that a primary school in western Turkey was named after him.

The name was removed from the school following the outrage.

Yıldıran was assassinated on a bus in Ümraniye, İstanbul, in 1988. The assailants, allegedly members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were never apprehended. The government declared him a martyr, and he was posthumously honored by Turkish nationalists. However, his name remains controversial, with his torture the subject of television series and books, such as Mehdi Zana’s “Hell No. 5. Diary from a Turkish Prison.”

Many inmates in the Diyarbakır prison died either by suicide or as a result of hunger strikes staged to escape torture.

Torture in custody and prisons is a systematic problem in Turkey about which local rights groups, parliamentarians and state authorities receive hundreds of complaints every year.

Although victims can include people detained or imprisoned on any grounds, several documents in recent years have indicated that the practice is more pervasive and systematic when it comes to people detained during demonstrations that include criticism of the government or those targeted on other political grounds such as their alleged ties to political and civil networks not approved of by the government.

Another abuse that has made the headlines in recent years is the systematic and arbitrary strip-searches of detainees and prisoners.

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