Following the demise of prisoner Koçer Özdal (65), who was seriously ill and died in an intensive care unit while handcuffed to his bed, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ayşe Acar Başaran called on the Turkish government to stop causing the death of sick prisoners.
Özdal died on August 27 at Ankara Numune Hospital, where he was receiving treatment after being referred there on July 19, 2018 from Samsun Bafra Prison. He was placed in intensive care on August 13 and lost consciousness on August 24 after the doctors saw that cancer had spread throughout his body. Özdal was reportedly handcuffed to the bed until his death.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had ignored a campaign launched by human rights organizations for the release and treatment of Özdal.
According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), following the deterioration of his health under dire prison conditions, Koçer was asked by prison authorities to write a request to be taken to the infirmary although he could not read or write and had been kept in solitary confinement while his health worsened.
Although human rights organizations, his family and the HDP had repeatedly called for his release from prison, Özdal was kept incarcerated and was finally delivered in a coffin to his family from the prison he had entered in 2014 as a healthy man.
“Aside from the principles of justice, human rights and universal law, no institution, state or person with a conscience should have allowed Koçer’s preventable death,” said HDP deputy Başaran in a statement on the behalf of HDP.
“In the last 17 years 3,503 sick prisoners have died in Turkey’s prisons. It is clear that the Turkish government continues to ignore these deaths. Sick prisoners are being handcuffed and forced to travel in prison vehicles, and prison infirmaries prefer to ignore prisoners demands instead of offering them treatment.
“It’s no wonder that permission was not given to investigate criminal complaints of misconduct on the part of officials. If the Turkish government continues its current practices, 1,154 sick prisoners, including more than 402 prisoners in serious condition, may share Özdal’s fate.”
The statement concluded with a warning to the Turkish government: “Put an end to your unjust, conscienceless, unlawful practices and stop obstructing sick prisoners’ access to health care and their right to say goodbye to their families. Stop causing the death of the citizens you are obliged to serve.”