Ministry matters

Opposition MP accuses Justice Ministry of lying about mistreatment and torture in Turkish prisons

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has accused Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ of lying about ill-treatment and torture in Turkish prisons, claiming that a a number of detainees had died in the past four months.

Gergerlioğlu also called out Bozdağ on social media to explain how inmate Ferhan Yılmaz died at Istanbul’s Silivri Prison.

“There is no torture, ill-treatment in Turkish prisons. We have zero tolerance for torture and ill-treatment,” Bozdağ said on Wednesday.

Addressing prison guards at an event on April 2, Bozdağ also said the government “has not turned a blind eye to torture and ill-treatment in its prisons,” saying it owns the one of the best prison systems in the world.

Mezopotamya (MA) news agency recently reported that two inmates at Silivri prison died in April after being severely beaten and mistreated by prison guards.

Footage of Ferhan Yılmaz, one of the detainees, emerged on April 13 showing him seriously injured in a hospital bed. In a photograph, Yılmaz’s face appears bruised and his nose broken.

Another of the inmates, Halil Kasan, had told his family in a phone conversation that the guards continually taunted them and told them they could provide them with ropes if the inmates wanted to kill themselves. “A guard asked me if I had a rope and said I could easily hang myself,” Kasan told his family. “They make prison life unbearable for us, the cells are disgusting, there is not enough food or beds. We don’t feel safe and are always intimidated by the guards.

After an aborted putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. The lack of condemnation by senior officials and the desire to cover up the allegations rather than investigate them has resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

An annual report by Amnesty International (AI) on the situation of human rights in the world revealed that serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment had been made in Turkey last year.

In its annual report on human rights in Turkey, the US State Department listed credible reports of arbitrary executions, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, enforced disappearances, torture, arrests arbitrary acts and the continued detention of tens of thousands of people for alleged links with “terrorist groups” or peaceful and legitimate speech as being among the main human rights problems in the country.

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