The life of Selahattin Demirtaş, jailed former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is at risk, according to a report prepared by the Human Rights Association (İHD).
Demirtaş, who has been kept in a prison in the western province of Edirne for over three years, went unconscious last month after suffering from chest tightness and breathing difficulties, but wasn’t taken to a hospital for a week.
He was taken to a hospital only after his lawyer and sister Aygül Demirtaş shared his health condition on Twitter, prompting outrage.
Lawyers Zeynep Ceren Boztoprak and İnce İncesağır from the İHD’s Prison Commission, as well as the association’s Istanbul co-chair Eren Keskin visited Selahattin Demirtaş on different dates following reports of his deteriorated health condition.
‘You shouldn’t be in jail’
Speaking at a press conference to share the report that they prepared after visiting Demirtaş, Boztoprak said that the former co-chair lost a lot of weight and that the damage inflicted by prison conditions was obvious.
“His appearance show the damage inflicted by his illness. However, he’s in high spirits. He doesn’t say, ‘I’m not well, I need to be released.’ There aren’t ambulances or doctors there all the time. The doctor told him, ‘You shouldn’t be in jail,’ but he didn’t write it in the report,” Boztoprak told reporters on Dec. 25.
Demirtaş was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and faces hundreds of years in prison.
HDP lawmakers and members are often accused of being supporters of the PKK – a group designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in July that Demirtaş’s rights were violated, while calling for his release – a call quickly dismissed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Additional reports to be prepared
During the press conference, Boztoprak said that Demirtaş underwent three medical examinations in 10 days after his hospitalization and the results showed that his life is at risk.
“In the magnetic resonance imaging carried out on his stomach area, it was seen that adipose tissues were formed on his vein walls. It was stated that it would be life threatening if those adipose tissues attached to vein walls exist in other parts of his body in addition to his stomach. The attached adipose tissues may detach and circulate in the veins with blood, which would lead to atherosclerosis in any part of his body. In addition, the lipid fat ratio in his blood was measured as 700 and this is much higher than the ideal value, which also poses life risk,” the report read.
The health reports were shared with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey for further examinations, Boztoprak said, adding that an additional evaluation report will be prepared as a result.
‘Release sick prisoners immediately’
The İHD report also said that Demirtaş’s health problems stem from prison conditions, adding that he needs to be released in order to prevent him from getting worse and ensure better treatment.
“Otherwise, his right to access healthcare would be openly violated and unfortunately, the violation of his right to life would come to the agenda. The violation in question is the responsibility of government officials, mainly the Justice Minister, and prison administration both legally and ethically,” the report read.
“We, as the Human Rights Association, call on the Justice Ministry to release all sick prisoners immediately,” it added.