Current situation in Turkish prisons: Torture and death

While disciplinary punishments are extended in the prison of Elazığ, Northern Kurdistan, messages about maltreatment come from the prison of Tarsus. In Adana, a prisoner died because he was denied his medication.

Under the regime of the AKP-MHP, fascist practices are spreading in Turkish prisons. Every day new news of violations are added.


Elazığ High Security Prison has opened disciplinary proceedings against 114 prisoners. The prisoners refused the census in military formation on February 16 and were then beaten by the prison staff. For two months they have been denied any visit except attorney visits.


After a visit to his nephew Rubar Emen, Mehmet Salih Emen reports that Tarsus T-Type prison is intensifying the repression from day to day. Disciplinary inquiries are launched against the prisoners. Due to hunger strikes, in which they had participated in other prisons months before, prisoners are subjected to cell punishment. Emen states that prisoners that refuse roll-call standing up and give military salute, are battered.

Emen reiterates his nephew’s words: “Although there are 17 people in a cell, they bring food for only ten. Since there is too little food, we have trouble feeding ourselves. The guards who come to our cells force us to stand barefoot for roll-call. If we say anything against it, we are insulted, beaten and maltreated. Six people from our neighboring cell were picked up and taken to an unknown location. That’s why we are concerned about the lives of these people.”

Emen said they prisoners threatened by law enforcement personnel who say: Accept the crimes you are accused of in the indictment. You will come here and face us again. “Mehmet Salih Emen has contacted the office of the Human Rights Association IHD in Adana.


On 25 January, epileptic Ömer Yaba was arrested for a crime and taken to Adana’s E-Type prison. On February 7, he was transferred to the Kürkçüler Prison in Adana and died there on February 9. Yabas parents report that the guards are responsible for the death of their son. His medicine had been taken from him and not given back. According to his mother, Ömer Yaba has suffered from epilepsy for five years and needed regular medication.

Recently, HDP Commission on Prisons issued an urgent call to the international institutions including the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission and their rapporteurs on torture and human rights; the political parties from the world; and embassies regarding the alarming levels of torture and ill treatment in Turkish prisons. HDP Commission stressed that Turkish prisons have evolved into torture centers, saying;

“As President Erdoğan and his ultranationalist allies are gradually building a dictatorial rule under conditions of emergency rule, militarization and populist nationalism, prisons and detention centers have become key areas for brutally oppressive government policies. Since the ruling AKP came to power in 2002, prison population has dramatically increased in the country. Following the abortive coup in 2016, grave human rights violations have become even more rampant and massive arrests have filled Turkish prisons with countless political dissidents. According to Şaban Yılmaz, Turkey’s Director General of Prisons and Detention Houses, as of 7 February 2018, the population of Turkish prisons reached 235,888, while the capacity of prisons in Turkey is sufficient to host 208,830 prisoners. Around 50,000 of these prisoners are charged with political crimes. Various reports and observers have indicated that arrests by a judiciary that is under direct control of the executive serve as a political tool to paralyze or destroy the democratic opposition in the run up to the presidential elections.”

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