Severely disabled Kurdish inmate dies in prison 10 days before release

A Kurdish inmate with severe disabilities in a prison in eastern Elazığ province died 10 days before he was due to be released, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

İbrahim Yıldırım, 68, who suffered from a brain tumor, was due to be released on August 25. However, he died in prison on Saturday night despite several hospital reports saying he was not fit to be incarcerated.

The prison administration informed Yıldırım’s family of his death and told them he had died of a heart attack.

His family had previously expressed concern about Yıldırım’s well-being. “My husband is completely blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. We are worried he may trip and fall and sustain injuries,” his wife had said. “We don’t want him to die in prison, and we’re afraid we’ll be receiving news of his death.”

Yıldırım was arrested in 2011 for alleged links to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). No details have been published regarding Yıldırım’s trial or conviction.

Sick inmates have frequently complained about neglect and lack of access to proper healthcare in prison. These complaints were subject to investigation by the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, which has documented the lack of proper medical care in several prisons.

Turkish authorities have denied political prisoners, even those with critical illnesses, release from prison so they can at least seek proper treatment. Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized the authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said ill prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return. He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics.

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