Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Istanbul’s Silivri prison, which houses 23,000 inmates, has the highest number of prisoners who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus of any penal institution in Turkey. According to the testimony of one prisoner, 39 prisoners with the virus are being held in the same dormitory-style ward. 

While chief prosecutors have officially announced that a total of 44 prisoners at Silivri have tested positive, prisoners claim that the figure is considerably higher and are concerned that their lives are at risk. 

“There are 39 of us with symptoms of the virus in the same ward. This week, the conditions of six people worsened, and they were removed from the ward. In order to keep the number of those in the ward at 39, they brought in six more people. There are no precautions whatsoever, and they are not announcing anything to us. In terms of treatment, they are only giving us malaria medication,” one prisoner told his family over the phone. 

The families of the prisoners are otherwise only able to monitor the situations of their relatives via an online system, and one family said that despite following doctors’ records every day the system is showing no changes in terms of treatment. The family said that only four to five people in the ward in question are having their temperatures taken. 

According to pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, as many as 45 inmates are being held in dormitory-style wards meant to house just seven people. Gergerlioğlu submitted a parliamentary inquiry to Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül asking for confirmation regarding this overcrowding. 

Gergerlioğlu also inquired about claims indicating that prisoners with symptoms for coronavirus were not being tested, and asked how many prisoners to date had been tested for the virus.