Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

The coronavirus pandemic has further complicated lives of sick prisoners in Turkey as prison administrations made it obligatory to sign a form of consent for returning to isolation upon their return from hospital treatment.

Cancer patient Mehmet Salih Filiz, who is an inmate at Izmir’s Ödemiş Prison, recently suffered a hemorrhage. A doctor was brought to the prison and the doctor requested to treat Filiz, but the patient denied treatment as he would then be required to spend 14 days in isolation upon return to prison and would not be able to take care of himself alone. 

Another sick prisoner, Sabri Kaya, was taken to the hospital for a second time. His daughter Dilan called upon the authorities to not send her ailing father back to jail. 

Mehmet Salih Filiz has intestinal cancer. Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Turkey, he received treatment multiple times but his health did not improve. When his situation became critical, the doctor that was brought to the prison said that there was nothing else they could do except take Filiz to the hospital. 

Following the doctor’s statement, prison authorities presented Filiz with a form to sign that read: “I accept all the responsibility for going to the hospital. When I return to prison from the hospital, I accept that I will stay alone in a cell for 14 days.” Filiz, who frequently faints and cannot survive on his own, refused to sign the form. 

Filiz recently called his family and told them that his situation is getting increasingly worse. 

“They want to bring him back to the prison but due to the pandemic they want to put the responsibility on him and have him sign a form. My brother faints and cannot be alone. For this reason we are worried about his life. They are abandoning him to die. We want my brother to be brought to a full-fledged hospital and cared for afterwards. We know the position of the state — they won’t release him. We want our parliamentarians to help us with this matter. At the very least, we want to visit him in prison and see how he is doing,” said his brother Şeyhmus. 

The health of Sabri Kaya, who is in prison in the province of Osmaniye, is also worsening. Prior to the pandemic, Kaya was brought to a hospital and was under intensive care. After the treatment he was again sent back to prison. A week later, his situation worsened and he was once again sent to intensive care. His family has appealed to the chief public prosecutor’s office to end his sentence, but have not received a response for months.

Kaya had previously received treatment for three damaged cardiac valves.