Top medical association says prisoner Tuğluk’s disease progressing rapidly

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has demanded the release of jailed former HDP deputy co-chair Aysel Tuğluk, who suffers from dementia, because she cannot be treated under prison conditions and cannot continue her life alone.

Duvar English

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced that sick prisoner Aysel Tuğluk, former deputy co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who suffers from dementia, cannot be treated in prison.

Following the application filed by Tuğluk's lawyers, TTB formed an expert committee that included neurology, forensic medicine and psychiatry experts.

As a result of their investigations, the experts stated that Tuğluk's treatment "cannot be provided in prison conditions, that the person must be treated in a tertiary health institution and that she cannot continue her life alone in prison conditions," according to a reporting by the news portal Bianet on Oct. 19.

The report stated that Tuğluk had "middle stage dementia" and that "in addition to cognitive disorders, she also had depressive symptoms that are part of the disease.” The committee also diagnosed “a rapidly progressive destruction in her cognitive abilities.”

The committee also criticized the reports of the pro-government Forensic Science Institute (ATK), which ruled that Tuğluk could "carry on with her life alone, and her treatment and check-ups can be provided in prison to allow her to continue execution of her sentence."

Tuğluk has been held in a high-security prison for more than five years on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. She was arrested in December 2016 as part of an operation against the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

In recent years, Tuğluk’s family and legal team began reporting her declining health. Tuğluk's condition deteriorated in the aftermath of her mother’s funeral in 2017, which was attacked by an anti-Kurdish nationalist mob. Tuğluk was on leave from prison to attend the funeral, but because of the violence, she was unable to see her mother being buried.

She has received a medical report from Kocaeli University Hospital stating that due to her condition, she is unfit to remain imprisoned. However, the ATK ruled that she is able to stay in prison and has refused to approve her release.

Tuğluk’s team says that the longer she stays behind bars, the worse her condition will become. Activists, politicians, and human rights groups have been calling for her release since late last year with increasing urgency as her condition worsens. Tuğluk is just 57 years old.