Sick inmate allegedly beaten after transfer to new prison in western Turkey

Chronically sick inmate Lütfi Koç, who was recently transferred to Afyon Prison in western Turkey, was allegedly severely beaten in the new prison and has asked for help from his family, Bold Medya reported.

Koç was arrested in March 2019 and subsequently diagnosed with two brain tumors. According to his family, he was not treated for the tumors in prison. He was transferred to a new facility while waiting for a medical report stating he was not fit to remain in prison. After the beating, Koç told his family he was afraid of being killed in prison.

Koç said his eyes had been bloodied and that the pain caused by an inguinal hernia had worsened as a result of the beating. Koç told his family that he filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office but to no avail, and the doctor did not issue a report stating he was beaten.

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’s wife, Züleyha Koç, had said in a previous interview with the TR724 news website that her husband was under immense psychological pressure in prison. She said he had been barred from going out to the yard for fresh air and was not treated for the tumors after the diagnosis.

There have been widespread claims of torture in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers that have so far gone uninvestigated. Turkey is party to several international conventions that have different review and inspection mechanisms such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). According to information published on the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the country is currently party to 16 UN human rights conventions and 121 of the CoE’s 225 conventions and has signed 31 other conventions.

Yet, in the recent past the Turkish government has continuously disregarded the provisions of the constitution and failed to uphold its international obligations. For instance, Turkey has for four years blocked the publication of a report by a Council of Europe delegation that paid a fact-finding visit to Turkey in 2016 to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment in Turkish correctional facilities.

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