As human rights abuses increase, more and more inmates die in Turkish prisons

Amid an increase in human rights abuses in Turkish jails, more and more inmates die in prisons. Seven inmates died in the past month alone.

Vedat Çem Erkmen's body is seen being transferred in this photo taken from Mesopotamia Agency.

Duvar English 

Human rights abuses have been increasing in Turkish prisons and more and more inmates are dying as a result.

A total of 104 inmates and convicts died in prisons since 2020 and authorities turn a blind eye to human rights violations, the daily BirGün reported on Dec. 22. 

Most recently, inmate Vedat Çem Erkmen died under suspicious conditions in the Tekirdağ Prison. Authorities told Erkmen's family that he committed suicide in his cell, but the fact that his autopsy was completed without the presence of lawyers and family cast doubt on the official statement. His funeral was held under police presence. 

Erkmen was the seventh inmate to die in a prison in the past month alone. Human rights defenders say that the abuses and the lack of adequate healthcare cause these deaths. 

They also say that 64 of said 104 deceased prisoners were suffering from illnesses and deaths that are ruled suicide must be looked into. 

Nuray Çevirmen, a central executive board member of the Human Rights Association (İHD), said that prisoners suffer from trauma after strip searches, torture, mistreatment and various other rights violations. 

"The applications filed by lawyers and human rights institutions are ignored. We have a situation that authorities are unwilling to solve," Çevirmen told BirGün, adding that suicides should be handled as driving prisoners towards death. 

"Prison administrations are directly responsible," she said. 

Saying that families of the prisoners whose deaths are ruled suicide deny official remarks, Çevirmen asked, "What are these people going through in prison?" 

"Their families say these people are not suicidal. The fact that prison authorities rule for suicide doesn't remove the problem," she said. 

Çevirmen also said that the situation of sick prisoners is the worst and that families are also suffering since inmates are sent to prisons far from their hometowns. 

"The law says inmates should be imprisoned in jails close to their families, but they're sent to places kilometers away," she said.