Wife of inmate suffering from cancer calls for her husband’s release

Hüseyin Geçmek

Havva Geçmek, the wife of inmate Hüseyin Geçmek, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer, has called on Turkish authorities for her husband’s release to allow him access to proper medical care, Bold Medya reported.

Hüseyin Geçmek, 36, who was arrested in June 2021 to serve a sentence on conviction of links to the Gülen movement, was recently diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer in a prison in Turkey’s northern Samsun province.

Speaking to Bold Medya, Geçmek’s wife Havva said the first symptoms of the cancer, which has spread rapidly, appeared about a month ago. “We have to ask permission from the prosecutor every time we want to see my husband. Our only desire is to support him during this difficult time. I would like my husband to be released from prison as soon as possible while he’s coping with this disease,” she said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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 the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Hüseyin Geçmek, who visited the prison infirmary with symptoms including diarrhea and nausea, was finally able to see the prison doctor after his third attempt in a month.

The prison doctor who examined Geçmek on December 15 said his condition was critical and that he should have seen a doctor earlier.

Following an examination at a hospital in Samsun, Geçmek was taken back to the prison but was then admitted to the hospital due to his worrying test results.

Geçmek has been in the hospital for 20 days waiting for his chemotherapy to begin.

Geçmek was first detained shortly after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 for alleged links to the movement. He was released pending trial almost eight months later, and in June 2021 he was arrested after an appeals court upheld a six-year, three-month prison sentence.

Geçmek has a 15-month-old son and an 8-year-old daughter.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.

Opposition deputies and activists have repeatedly drawn attention to the plight of critically sick prisoners. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu earlier 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 or infirmaries.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), as of December 2022 there are 1,517 sick inmates in Turkish prisons, 651 of whom are critically ill. İHD Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan said the number of ailing prisoners and the death toll could be much higher than the report indicated. Türkdoğan described the situation as a “structural problem.”

Most recently, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has put the blame on the country’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) for controversial reports on sick prisoners that lead to these people remaining in prison despite advanced illness. Bozdağ claimed in televised remarks that the government always wants the ATK to issue its reports in favor of sick prisoners but that when the ATK rules that a sick inmate is “fit to remain in prison,” there is nothing a prosecutor or a prison administrator can do to ensure their release.

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