Women demand the release of Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk suffering from dementia

While the release of Aysel Tuğluk was ordered in the so-called Kobanê trial, the seriously ill Kurdish politician will remain in prison due to a final conviction in another trial.

Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk has been in Kandıra prison in the western Turkish province of Kocaeli since December 2016, suffering from dementia while in custody. Last year, an expert opinion from the forensic department of Kocaeli University determined that the 57-year-old is no longer fit to be imprisoned due to chronic and progressive Alzheimer's dementia and should be released from prison immediately. The Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) in Istanbul, an institution of the Ministry of Justice, has made a contrary finding and has so far seen no reason to suspend the execution of the sentence.

On August 5, the release of Aysel Tuğluk was decided by the court in the Kobanê trial in Ankara. 108 people are accused in the political show trial, including the former executive committee of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). 21 defendants are in prison. The defendants are accused of terrorist offences and murder in dozens of cases in connection with the protests during the ISIS attack on Kobanê in October 2014.

While the release of Aysel Tuğluk was ordered in the so-called Kobanê trial, the seriously ill Kurdish politician will remain in prison due to a final conviction in another trial.

Aysel Tuğluk, who also represented Abdullah Öcalan as a lawyer, has already been sentenced in several cases, while other trials are still pending. In February 2020, the Turkish Court of Appeal confirmed Tuğluk's highest prison sentence to date, of ten years' imprisonment. She was convicted of "directing a terrorist organisation" due to her function as co-chair of the grassroots alliance "Democratic Society Congress" (DTK). In October 2021, a sentence of twenty months imprisonment followed against the former member of parliament for alleged terror propaganda in 2012 and 2013. In the so-called Kobanê trial in Ankara, she faces an aggravated life sentence.

In mid-August, the Constitutional Court (AYM) made an interim decision regarding the application for the postponement of the execution and release of Tuğluk, whose request to postpone the execution of her sentence and to be released was rejected.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice, the General Directorate of Security, the Gendarmerie General Command and the Intelligence Service (MIT) objected to the release of Aysel Tuğluk. The Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court rejected the objections and submitted the file to the Ankara 23rd High Criminal Court.

Adile Doğan from the Esenyalı Women's Solidarity Association, Zarife Akbulut from the Women's Defence and, HDK (Peoples’ Democratic Congress) Muğla Co-Spokeswoman and member of the ‘1000 Women for Aysel Tuğluk’ campaign, Dilek Gökçin, spoke to ANF about the prolonged detention of Tuğluk despite the court decision to release her and the objections to her release.


Adile Doğan from the Esenyalı Women's Solidarity Association pointed out that the government's hostile attitude not only concerns Tuğluk but also all oppressed women, which is why all segments of society should come together for the Kurdish politician. “The main reason for this grudge against a sick prisoner is the anger towards the Kurdish question. The state is trying to punish Aysel Tuğluk due to the Kurdish question. We collected signatures from thousands of women and tried to make her voice heard, but even these attempts remain insufficient. This is also a human tragedy, and all women should embrace her case as this persecution will eventually target all women. Now, they use the same overwhelming state power to intimidate anyone who demands civil rights and freedoms. The persecution Tuğluk is subjected to will also be applied to a female worker in a factory in future. Based on what happened to those seeking their rights at EFT Tekstil, we know that the mentality that allows policemen to use pepper gas against protesting female workers during demos will also apply the same persecution to anyone who seeks fundamental rights. Therefore, all women who are oppressed in Turkey should raise their voice and show solidarity on this issue. We should discuss what we can do differently in this respect. All the segments should embrace Tuğluk’s case,” Doğan said.


HDK Muğla Co-Spokeswoman Dilek Gökçin, who is also a member of the ‘1000 Women for Aysel Tuğluk’ campaign, recalled that Tuğluk is a human rights defender who stands by all the oppressed groups. “Tuğluk is someone who carried out activities in favour of marginalized segments, especially the Kurds and women. She has become an icon for Turkey's struggle for democratization and freedom. She is a woman who worked devotedly under any circumstances at the intersection of the women's movement and rights advocacy. She is our colleague who worked tirelessly for women's struggle for equality and freedom. Despite her illness, she is kept in prison and her health is getting worse each day as she cannot recover under prison conditions. We learned that she was infected with Covid alongside her cell mates in prison. Both the fake release decision in the Kobanê Trial and the Constitutional Court’s recent decision were made out of pure political motives. The decision not to release her is incompatible with law, justice, ethics and science. It has no place even in the enemy law. We, women, will not let Tuğluk be forgotten. She should be released immediately and receive proper treatment outside the prison. We want freedom for Tuğluk and for other sick prisoners before it is too late for anything.”


Zarife Akbulut from the ‘Women's Defence’ addressed the controversial decisions of the Forensic Medicine Institute against numerous women as she called for Tuğluk to be treated as soon as possible. “The Forensic Medicine Institute has a notoriety not only in Tuğluk's case, but also in the cases of other women who were raped and harassed, not taking their statements as a basis or issuing biased reports to the detriment of women. The Forensic Medicine Institute reduces justice only to reports. Allied with a partisan judiciary, the Forensic Medicine Institute’s reports lead to more unfair decisions. Through its notorious reports, it is a part of the ongoing judicial persecution against the Kurdish political movement, especially against Kurdish women. We are also aware of the seriousness of Tuğluk’s situation. Her maltreatment has now turned into torture, and we want it to end as soon as possible and ask for the treatment she needs. It is very obvious that this is a government operation, and they are using Tuğluk’s case as a threat to other women's organizations and institutions that carry out women's struggle. The only thing we can say is that Aysel Tuğluk, our friend and comrade, with whom we have enhanced the women's struggle, should be released as soon as possible. To this end, we are both a part and a follower of the struggle. Since the Forensic Medicine Institute has been exposed as an institution making contradictory and shady decisions, we will continue to demand justice that will not rely on the decisions of such an institution.”