Political prisoner behind bars for 32 years not released despite serious illness

The state of health of political prisoner Kasım Karataş, who has been imprisoned in Turkey for 32 years, continues to deteriorate. The seriously ill prisoner has been denied release twice at the end of his sentence.

Kasım Karataş has been imprisoned in Turkey for 32 years. The political prisoner is currently being held in Tekirdağ F Type Prison. Karataş has been on the Human Rights Association's (IHD) list of sick prisoners since 2016. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for "separatism" at the 8th High Criminal Court in İzmir on September 4, 1993, and has since been held in various prisons in İzmir, Aydın, Antep, Karabük, Urfa and Tekirdağ.

Despite a drastic deterioration in his health and the expiry of his sentence, he is not released. The prisoner has already undergone open heart surgery and three angiographies. He suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and herniated discs. He has to take large amounts of medication every day and has suffered dozens of heart spasms in recent years. Karataş is bedridden and has to be cared for by his fellow prisoners. He should actually have been released on August 2. However, as he refused to submit a "statement of repentance", a further examination was postponed until November 2. On November 2, a further postponement was ordered to February 2, 2024.

The political prisoner’s daughter Gülistan Karataş spoke to ANF and said: "We do not accept the blackmail to repent under any circumstances. This situation is not only for Kasım Karataş, but for all comrades in the dungeons."

Warning about his father’s state of health, she said: "Two of his heart arteries are blocked and he could go into cardiac spasm or have a heart attack at any time. During a visit on November 21, he told me that he hadn't been able to eat for two weeks because of his diabetes. He said that a certificate from the hospital was required for diet food, but no measures were taken in this direction. My request for a meeting with the prison administration was granted, but it did not lead to a positive result."

"What is being done here is an injustice that is being committed with the intention of breaking the will of our friends in prison," Gülistan Karataş said and continued: "The government itself is responsible for this. Their aim is to intimidate us. We will never be intimidated, and we will never give up our struggle. One day, justice will be served. We must never remain silent about this injustice. As long as we remain silent, the situation of our sick friends in prison will worsen. If we do not give them a voice, many of them will lose their lives. We must do something together."