Duvar English

A total of 302 writers, academics, journalists, scientists and rights activists have called on the Turkish government not to discriminate against political prisoners in the wake of coronavirus contagion.

These 302 people have demanded that the government grant the same right to jailed political prisoners as other prisoners who will benefit from an upcoming early parole legal amendment.

The Turkish parliament will next week debate a bill seeking to free approximately 90,000 of the country’s nearly 300,000 inmates. The penal reform was fast-tracked amid concerns over coronavirus outbreak in the country’s overcrowded jails.

The amnesty bill excludes inmates charged with terrorism – a charge which the government misuses for political ends. Jailed human rights activists, journalists and opposition politicians will therefore not be among those considered for early release.

The legal amendment is “very worrisome” over its denial of amnesty for political prisoners and such a situation will deepen the “social differentiation,” said the declaration signed by the 281 intellects.

“Social conscience is getting pushed further. In order to win the fight against coronavirus epidemic on one side, to normalize the society on the other hand, prisons should be evacuated as soon as possible. [The authorities] should stop discriminating against inmates in prisons,” said the declaration named “Unity and Solidarity is for such times as these.”

“Otherwise, no matter if one is an opponent or a conformist, we will not be able to look each other in the face,” it said.

“What do we want? We want to live with all our people in peace, to calm down, in summary a social normalization. It is now time to actualize the ‘Unity and Solidarity’ which has so far stayed only as a discourse. Tomorrow can be too late. We need to take immediate steps,” the intellects said.