LGBTQI+ raped, beaten, abused in western Turkey prison, NGO reports

An LGBTQI+ named Memiş Akbaş was raped, beaten, and threatened in Eskişehir prisons where they were incarcerated, a recent report by rights association CISST revealed. The prison administrations also withheld Akbaş's letters detailing the violence they were exposed to.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

LGBTQI+ Memiş Akbaş was subject to physical and psychological violence and sexually assaulted in two Eskişehir prisons where they were held, a report by the Association of Civil Society in the Correctional System (CISST) said. 

Akbaş reportedly tried to speak out about the abuse he endured in the prison through letters he wrote to non-governmental organizations, but the prison never allowed his letters to be mailed.

"I'd like to see a lawyer, I can't put my experiences in writing," the LGBTI+ finally wrote to CISST, prompting a visit from attorney Esra Erin who ultimately wrote the report on Akbaş's case.

Akbaş's told Erin that he was contemplating suicide if the attorney hadn't showed up and that they were no longer able to withstand the continued assaults from not just other inmates, but also from the guards.

Akbaş reportedly told the guards upon his arrival at the prison that he wanted to avoid being placed in one of the multiple LGBTQI+ wards because it housed an individual they had previous altercations with, but was still placed in that ward.

"Akbaş said that they had issues with not just their former acquaintance but also other inmates, that they were subject to physical and sexual violence, and that their requests to meet with the administration were met with threats," Erin noted. 

The prison guards reportedly told Akbaş that the prison was "not like other places" they knew and that the guards could turn the prison into a hell for the LGBTQI+.

When Akbaş was finally able to meet with the prison warden, they were told to give an official statement to a doctor that they were not in fact queer so that they could be placed outside the LGBTQI+ ward.

The inmate was transported to the hospital against their will and was placed in a male ward upon their return, where they were once again assaulted and raped by the other inmates.

"I wanted to speak to the warden but the guard told me that they might be able to get me an appointment if I cut myself," Akbaş reportedly told Erin. "I cut my arms and chest just so they would meet with me, and I was taken to the hospital."

Akbaş was hospitalized for a second time when they attempted suicide, after which they were taken to another prison in Eskişehir and placed in a male ward.

"The inmate didn't want to tell the others that they were LGBTQI+ and said that they tried to 'act manly,' but were insulted and asked whether they were gay," Erin said.

Akbaş was once again subject to physical violence when they told the other inmates they were gay, the attorney said, adding that the LGBTQI+ was forced to clean toilets and threatened with a shiv by the other inmates. 

"Akbaş gave an official statement to the administration that they were going to go on a death fast, which is how they managed to be transferred out of the male ward," the attorney said. 

Akbaş was sent back to the first prison they were housed in after they threatened a death fast, Erin noted, adding that the inmate continues to be beaten and verbally abused by the guards.