Lawyers denounce increase in rights violations in prisons in Urfa and Izmir

A squad of at least 80 guards in riot gear raided cells in an Urfa prison and harassed dozens of inmates. Some sustained broken bones while being moved to a windowless cell with dirty water.

Violence and torture against prisoners have always been a characteristic of the Turkish state. Under the AKP, however, the situation has taken on a whole new dimension. Since the beginning of the war against the Kurdish population in 2015, torture in prisons has been on the agenda. The branches of the lawyers' association ÖHD and the human rights association IHD in Urfa recently received worrying reports of torture and ill-treatment. In the local T-type prison number 2, according to the information available, a cell block, which was occupied by political prisoners, was attacked by a squad of around eighty guards in riot gear. Officially to be transferred to other cells, almost all inmates were beaten, handcuffed and dragged across the floor at the instructions of the prison administration. The prisoners were forcibly brought into a windowless and bunker-like cell without access to drinking water. They did not receive sleeping blankets, and dirty water is said to flow into the room. They would not be transferred to the infirmary for treatment of broken bones, bruises and hematomas consequence of the violence they experienced.

According to the ÖHD and IHD, the incident occurred last Thursday. Concerned relatives of the prisoners informed the organizations. A mixed delegation then visited the prison and was able to speak to 23 inmates. According to all reports, the use of force occurred because the prisoners had refused to be transferred without an official order. The situation escalated a few minutes later when three prison officials came and gave the order to attack. The prison doctor is also said to have been banned from documenting the prisoners' injuries.

Twelve of the prisoners have meanwhile been transferred to cell block C-3, and there is no information about the whereabouts of more than sixty inmates, said those responsible for the ÖHD and IHD. The prisoners have started a boycott of food from the prison kitchen in protest of what was going on in the jail. They demand that the missing inmates be transferred to regular cells and that abuse and torture in the prison end. If the situation does not change, the next step should be a hunger strike. The lawyers will present a first investigation report in the next few days.

Raids in prisons in Izmir-Şakran

The law enforcement authorities also used violence against prisoners in the Şakran prison complex in Izmir, western Turkey. Also on Thursday, according to relatives, the cells of political prisoners were stormed there “to house criminals”. Those affected were female inmates in the women's prison and male prisoners imprisoned in the T-type prison. The women are said to have defended themselves against the transfer of criminal convicts to their cells and violent searches by prison staff. As a result, several of them were locked into a room used as a depot with no light. The prisoners' personal belongings and documents were also confiscated during the raid. In addition, radios are said to have been deliberately destroyed. The families of the prisoners are concerned about the safety of their relatives and appeal to the public to be particularly sensitive to the way the state treats the prisoners.