Turkish Board of Forensic Medicine sends sick Kurdish politician back to jail after 3 days of observation
The Turkish Board of Forensic Medicine (ATK) on Friday returned imprisoned Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk, who suffers from dementia, to a maximum security prison in Kocaeli province after a three-day observation of her condition.
According to the Evrensel daily, Tuğluk was under observation to determine if she was fit for stay in jail although a previous hospital report deemed her unfit. “The court decided that my sister should be observed for a maximum period of three weeks,” said Tuğluk’s brother, Alaattin Tuğluk. “While we didn’t expect her to stay at ATK for three weeks, we also believe that three days is not enough.”
As the number of sick inmates dying in prison has grown, doubts about the board’s credibility and independence have grown, as the institution is affiliated with the Ministry of Justice.
Tuğluk was arrested on December 29, 2016, when she was deputy co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), along with seven other opposition Kurdish politicians. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leading a terrorist organization and taking orders from Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by the Turkey. , the European Union and the United States.
Tuğluk denied the charges, saying she never called for violence and always sought democratic solutions to the problems facing the Kurds.
On September 5, 2021, his lawyers released a written statement stating that Tuğluk was ill and was denied access to proper health care in prison, without disclosing his illness. It was later revealed that she had symptoms of dementia.
In January, several non-governmental organizations in a letter urged the United Nations to take “urgent” action for Tuğluk’s release, saying his health had deteriorated significantly.
The letter urged the UN rapporteurs and the working group to act urgently to intervene against the ongoing rights violations targeting Tuğluk, specifically asking them “to urge the Turkish government to immediately release Aysel Tuğluk and others.” seriously ill prisoners who are not fit to remain in prison in accordance with Turkey’s obligations under domestic and international law” and “to raise concerns about the violation of prisoners’ rights to medical services and to investigate the circumstances behind the refusal to release seriously ill prisoners”.
The letter also urged the UN rapporteurs and the working group “to urge the Turkish government to ensure that all prisons in Turkey have sufficient numbers of medical personnel, including doctors, and that they work freely without any undue interference in their work” and “to ensure that the Turkish government allows greater accountability and transparency of prison living conditions by allowing visits and inspections by human rights groups and non-governmental entities.
According to her lawyer, Tuğluk received a report from a medical commission made up of nine doctors from Kocaeli University Hospital stating that she could not survive on her own. Tuğluk was denied release after a brief examination, despite the medical board’s report.
Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing seriously ill prisoners so they can receive proper treatment. Human rights defender and HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said sick prisoners were not released until they reached the point of no return.
HDP MP Züleyha Gülüm said political prisoners were the most disadvantaged and were often the least likely to be released if they had a serious health condition.