Prisons and COVID-19: Ill prisoners on the edge of 'death'

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İZMİR - Ahmet Ertaş, the Co-Chair of the Aegean Association of Solidarity with the Families of Prisoners and Detainees shared the information that the violations of rights have reached the highest level together with the pandemic, noting that the ill prisoners who lack their treatment rights are on the edge of 'death'.
 
The Human Rights Association (İHD) Prisons Commission has announced that there are 1,334 ll prisoners in prisons across Turkey, 458 of whom are in serious condition that Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) officially reports, "they cannot stay in prison". 261 ill prisoners, 84 of whom are in serious condition, are in the prisons in the Aegean Region.
 
Turkey’s parliament on April 14 accepted a prisoner release bill that allowed the release of tens of thousands of prisoners to address the immediate threat of coronavirus spreading in jails, but which critics slam for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges. 
The law proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP),  has been criticized by opposition parties and activists for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges, which include journalists, human rights activists and opposition politicians who face the risk of the pandemic in prisons.
 
As the restrictions brought to prisons due to a pandemic come to a point where they prevent the prisoners' access to health, nearly 100 families of the prisoners have applied in the last four months to the Aegean Association of Solidarity with the Families of Prisoners and Detainees (EGE TUHAY-DER). Among those, there are the families of Fatma Özbay, a prisoner in the Şakran Women's Closed Prison and of Mehmet Salih Filiz, a prisoner in Ödemiş Closed Prison. Their serious health problems being brought to the agenda from time the two prisoners' names are now publicly known.
 
VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS TO THE POINT OF A HUMAN RIGHTS DRAMA
 
EGE TUHAY-DER Co-Chair Ahmet Ertaş stated that the violations of rights in the prisons of the Aegean Region are at the highest level. 
 
"Together with the COVID-19 prisoners' right to treatment and health prisoners began to be usurped. Social activities, infirmary, canteen shopping and many other rights of the prisoners have been usurped as there is a lack of cleaning materials in the prisons," said Ertaş and added, "It is simply a human rights drama in prisons. The prisoners' health conditions are at serious risk. Prison administrations act arbitrarily."
 
Pointing out that this unlawfulness targets especially political prisoners, Ertaş stated that political prisoners are left to die in prisons as part of some political revenge, which excluded them from the prisoner release law.
 
A WOMAN PRISONER UNDER THE RISK OF DEATH: FATMA ÖZBAY
 
Ertaş tells the story of Fatma Özbay, a prisoner in İzmir's Şakran Women's Closed Prison saying that despite having cancer, Özbay was prevented from receiving treatment.
 
Ertaş shared the following information regarding the health status of Özbay: "Unfortunately, she is not taken to the hospital. Even if she is taken outside to the hospital, then they require her to stay in quarantine for 14 days in complete isolation, but the thing is seriously ill prisoners are not in the condition to look after themselves. Their immune system is weak. Ill prisoners are in a seriously vulnerable position considering the pandemic. Özbay and other ill prisoners are at risk of death in prisons."
 
RELEASE THE ILL PRISONERS
 
Calling for the authorities, especially the Ministry of Justice, to hear the voice of the ill prisoners Ertaş said, "The oppression in prisons should be ended as soon as possible. Ill prisoners shall be released and they should receive medical treatment," and noted that they will continue their democratic struggle to ensure that these demands are fully met. 
 

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