HDP MPs ask parliament whether female prisoner was sexually abused

Garibe Gezer, imprisoned in Kandıra Prison, has said that she was sexually assaulted by prison guards in a padded cell. HDP MPs submitted a parliamentary question with the demand to get a response from Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Some 22 female deputies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have brought the case of Garibe Gezer before parliament for investigation as Gezer, who is held in Kandıra Prison, told her family that after weeks of solitary confinement and assault by prison guards, she was taken into a padded cell and raped by female officers.

Gezer was transferred from Kayseri Prison to Kandıra Prison on March 15, where she was kept in solitary confinement for 22 days. She and her lawyers demanded she be transferred to a three-person cell, but her request was denied. 

On May 21, guards again tried to transfer her to a solitary cell, at which point a series of human rights violations began. When she objected to being transferred back to the cell she was sexually abused by prison guards.  

According to the filing, Gezer was kept in the cell for two days. She punched and kicked the door of the cell, which prompted guards to come and beat her. They threatened to throw her in a padded cell if she continued punching and kicking the door. 

On May 24, Gezer’s lawyers say, eight male and female officers came to her cell and began beating her. She was then violently transferred to the padded cell, where she was tortured. 

According to the petition, after the assault, Gezer began trying to rip the foam from the walls and floors of the cell. Guards saw her doing this on camera and came back to the cell. She was again beaten, and this time she fainted. Guards then handcuffed her hands behind her back.

She was kept handcuffed in the padded cell for three to four hours. 

Following this, Gezer attempted suicide. She refused to receive treatment in the infirmary due to the discriminatory practices of the doctor, and the fact that they had left her injured in her cell. Without a psychological analysis to determine whether she was a suicide risk, they returned her to her solitary cell. 

According to the petition filed by human rights defender Eren Keskin, one of the lawyers for Gezer, the conditions in the padded cell were abhorrent, bianet reported. 

“The client said the cell that is called the 'foam cell' was two to three meters long and fully covered in leather,” Keskin wrote, “It was monitored by a camera 24 hours a day, there were feces all over the room, and the smell of urine and feces was unbearable. There was only a hole in the room for a toilet and it could be seen by the camera.”

After Gezer told her sister, Asya Gezer, about what had happened during a visitation, a disciplinary investigation was opened against her. 

Now, Gezer’s lawyers and HDP lawmakers are calling for an in-depth investigation into her case. Lawyers are demanding that witnesses in the prison be interviewed, that camera recordings be analyzed, and that those found responsible be immediately punished. The 22 female HDP lawmakers who brought the issue to parliament have also submitted a series of questions to Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül. 

These questions largely ask Gül to verify the details of Gezer’s assault and violent treatment. They address the question of why padded cells and illegal invasive methods, such as nude searches, are still being used in prisons. They also asked what steps will be taken to ensure that Gezer can recover and that she and her fellow prisoners will not face this treatment again.

HDP Kocaeli Deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a HDP MP who was temporarily stripped of his parliamentary status earlier this year, also submitted questions. In them, he demands that an investigation be launched into the incident and for the ministry to explain why Gezer was subjected to violent assault and then left without medical care.