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by Ozgur, TAYAD
Monday, Dec. 30, 2002 at 2:05 PM
This is a report by the TAYAD prisoners' support organisation in Turkey. It is based on an account by a prisoner held in Tekirdag F-Type (Isolation) Prison and describes both major and petty abuse of prisoners by guards and officials.
December 23, 2002
THIS IS WHAT HAS BEEN EXPERIENCED BY THOSE IN TEKIRDAG F TYPE PRISON, YESTERDAY AND TODAY...
On entering Tekirdag F-Type Prison...
In the nearly two years that Tekirdag F-Type Prison has been open, the prisoners and convicts there have been subjected to many attacks, arbitrary practices and pressure.
In the F-Types, torture starts right from the moment you arrive at the prison gate…
The entrance to Tekirdag F-Type Prison is a section called “under the door”. Without exception, the “welcome” everyone gets is a beating.
After the prisoners’ identity documents, fingerprints, registration and other procedures have been carried out, they are taken to a room accompanied by the prison director and are subjected to dishonourable pressure from a bunch of guards and soldiers, pressure which goes under the name of a “search”. They want prisoners to take all their clothes off here. (Even though prisoners have been searched many times before arriving here.) Even the most ordinary human being reacts against this dishonourable situation, this provides an excuse for them to receive a beating from the guards.
And the shaving of heads and beards, making people lie face down, bursting their lip while searching their mouths, forcing them to have their anuses searched, scattering their belongings left and right, stealing them, swearing at prisoners, insulting and threatening them – all these things are quite openly practiced and known about. And it is stated that “F-Types are not like other prisons, everybody should watch their step.”
These practices happen to everyone, without exception. We will just give one example of what people go through…
The new prisoners brought here in February 2001 from Kartal Special Type Prison experienced all these practices in various forms.
Erkan Bulbul, was subjected to a serious attack on arriving at Tekirdag F-Type, despite the fact that he was on the 30th day of a hunger strike, and his stomach and chest in particular were kicked and punched. His hair and beard were forcibly shaved off.
Ercan Gullu was attacked in a similar way, and in addition his teapot and other belongings for making drinks were confiscated and not returned. When the guards were told he was on hunger strike they seized him by the head and arms and took him in front of a vehicle where there was food, they offered him some, saying that nobody would learn that he had been eating, and they did these things to him as a form of torture.
The isolation rooms...
After being tortured during the search on arrival at the F-Type prison, the prisoners are put in isolation rooms. The aim of the isolation room is to break the resistance of newly arrived prisoners right away, to make them feel alone and to create indifferent and unconditional obedience towards every kind of illegality and arbitrary pressure imposed by the administration. They spend days in the isolation room and the needs of prisoners are met in an arbitrary manner, depending on whether or not they obey. Those who are on hunger strike do not have any of their needs met and their own money is not given to them. The food of those who are not on hunger strike is brought to the door and the guards push it in with their feet.
New arrivals at the prison do not have needs like cigarettes, water, lighters, newspapers and so on met until they emerge from the isolation room. During roll calls the prisoners are pressurised to stand at attention and loudly shout out their own names and surnames. Those who object to these practices encounter an increased level of torture and threats.
The prisoners named Erkan Bulbul, Ali Sahin, Adiguzel Ozdemir, Mehmet Ali Tokay, Ercan Gullu, Oktay Yildiz, Gultekin Toprak, Bulent Coskun, Tuncel Ayaz and Zeynel Karatas were transferred from Kartal Special Type Prison to Tekirdag F-Type Prison and immediately all of them were subjected to similar practices.
Again Halil Ibrahim Sahin, Hasan Gokhan, Ismail Bahadir, Muharrem Bal and Mehmet Koc were transferred from Kandira F-Type to Tekirdag and were subjected to similar attacks and practices.
On March 2, 2002 Serdar Karacelik, Birol Abatay, Turan Bulut, Suleyman Acar, Gunay Eren, Inan Eren, and Riza Yildirim and 10 prisoners whose names we do not know were brought here from Edirne F-Type and subjected to similar practices.
The ordinary prisoners Umit Gunger and Serdar Karacelik were injured in the December 19 operation and despite their wounded condition they were tortured on arrival at Tekirdag. Serdar Karacelik’s right foot and left knee had bullet and shotgun pellet wounds, but these areas received blows and the prison director himself threatened to kick him. When Birol Abatay was transferred to Tekirdag from Edirne F-Type, he was forcibly shaved and his hair was shorn, and when there was a commotion his lip was split after he was struck several times. Even though the prison doctor issued a report confirming this, when charges were made against the prison staff who attacked him, nothing came of it.
On March 3, 2001, a group of 30 people were transferred and exiled from Edirne F-Type to Tekirdag F-Type and were exposed to the same attacks at the prison entrance. Among them were Hakki Akca, Erdal Koc, Nurettin Erenler, Mustafa Tosun, Gencali Karabulut, Aslan Bahar, Hasan Sahingoz, Kemal Ayhan, Guldede Ceven, Umit Gunger, Cahit Solmaz, Mehmet Kulaksiz... At the prison entrance everything was taken from them, their hair and beards were shaved off, their personal belongings were scattered everywhere and confiscated, they were threatened and then put in cells. Everyone being brought to the isolation rooms of the prison cells was gripped by the arms, sometimes by the neck, prevented from looking to left or right and kicked into their cell.
The ordinary prisoner Halil Ibrahim Sahin and those in the neighbouring cells were attacked by the prison administrator and 30 or 40 guards.
Those who were exiled here from Edirne F-Type had handcuffs attached to their wrists and in addition they were chained to chairs.
This is what was experienced by those who were taken from the isolation rooms and put in cells: in their first days in Tekirdag F-Type they were put on the ground floor during counts and pressurised to stand at attention, and call out their names and surnames one after the other. For days and weeks everybody who did not conform to these sanctions was attacked by a large group of guards as well as the prison director and were kicked, slipped and punched by them.
Any requests by prisoners that did not end in the words “I submit a petition” and “respectfully” were not dealt with. Guards did not take their petitions. At every roll call – note, this is not a search but a roll call – they were searched thoroughly, harassed, their belongings arbitrarily strewn about and attempts were made to steal them. Those who protested against this were attacked, threatened, put in isolation, made the subject of proceedings and other sanctions were also put on the agenda. Newspapers started to be brought in days late and handed in during the evening meal.
The essential needs of prisoners were either not available from the canteen at all or were only available at inflated prices. Basic cleaning materials like soap, detergent, brooms or buckets were not given and when money was handed over they were still not given. The doors to the courtyard were opened in a totally arbitrary way at noon, or in the morning, or during the day or indeed at any hour, and closed just as arbitrarily. Letters and accusations (concerning abuses) were placed under restriction and despite hundreds of accusations by prisoners about being attacked on entering the prison and about practices in the cells, not one single person responsible for these things has been brought before a prosecutor, nor were statements taken. Those who are ill are not taken to the prison infirmary, if people are able to go on account of being injured as a result of attacks, reports are not submitted concerning their injuries or no importance is attached to them.
Serdar Karacelik, Serif Kurtoglu and Volkan Kartal were removed from a three-person cell in June 2001 for arbitrary reasons and forcibly placed in isolation cells. In these cells the door to the courtyard was not opened, some belongings were not handed to the prisoners and basic items like tables and chairs were not given. In protest against this situation, the ordinary prisoner Serdar Karacelik announced that he would take nothing except water and sugar. When he did not back down despite threats and pressure from the prison administration, the cell doors were opened three days later and belongings, a table and chair were handed over. Serdar Karacelik was punished with 15 days’ denial of visiting rights for his behaviour. It was stated as an excuse that “the decision was taken not to put him in a three-person cell because he formed organisational ties in the prison”.
Those who are in the cells are forced to change them on arbitrary pretexts, and people who do not know each other are put next to each other in a deliberate effort to cause problems.
During roll calls, those in every cell who do not stand up and call out their names in order are attacked, threatened and cursed. Their belongings are scattered and the entire prison is reprimanded.
As a result of these attacks, Kemal Ayhan's skull was fractured. Halil Ibrahim Sahin received damage to the bones of his hands and even though a year has passed they have not healed.
Letters and requests are not accepted and letters to prisoners are not given to them on the pretext that “they did not stand up”.
Letters for Erkan Yirdem, who is on the Death Fast, Salih Cenik and Vedat Duskuner who share the cell with him, are delivered to them by means of the prison staff throwing the letters at their faces.
Nurettin Erenler, who stays in a one-person cell, was attacked by guards who crowded into his cell during a roll call, knocked him about and struck him.
Experiences of those who go to or come from court…
Prisoners going to hospital or to court are subjected to a search as soon as they leave the door of their cell. Shoes are forcibly removed or else they are compelled to pass in front of an X-Ray machine.
Before you pass through the X-Ray they want you to remove your shoes, belt, glasses, jacket and anything on you. This is despite the fact that the X-Ray machine is designed to detect metal and other objects which are not supposed to go into the prison, thus making a search unnecessary. But things work out differently in practice. Even before one passes through the X-Ray machine, an unexpected alarm may sound and the prisoners might be told to undress. If they do not and simply wish to pass through the sensor, an attack and a commotion will erupt as the guards try to undress them by force.
Shoes are removed and scattered around. Even if some items are removed there may still be problems going through the X-Ray machine because the machine is put at the most sensitive setting and even a zip or a trouser button may be enough to set it off. Thus the X-Ray always has the potential to create the basis for an attack and the prison staff are not afraid to exploit that.
Inan Dogan, Tayfun Koc and Ufuk Ince, who were brought to the Istanbul DGM (State Security Court) on March 4, 2002 to attend a hearing, were attacked one after the other while passing through the X-Ray machine. Ufuk Ince suffered injury to his nose as a result of the attack. After the attack he went to the infirmary and received a medical report testifying to his injury. Despite the medical proof a later complete about the incident he lodged was unsuccessful.
Taylan Aydogdu was attacked and beaten while passing through the device on the way back from court. The doctor was indifferent and haughty when he went some days later to the infirmary to obtain a medical report about his quite obvious injuries. The doctor had Taylan removed when he complained, thus creating a basis for him to be attacked again. After his family complained Taylan was brought to the Prosecutor’s Office to make a statement but nothing came of it.
Muharrem Bal was attacked on November 9, 2001 on the way to court, when he was passing through an X-Ray, and he dislocated his back. He has had back pains ever since. He complained about the incident but nothing came of it.
Selami Kurnaz was attacked when he was being borought to a hearing in Istanbul, just as he was passing through the X-Ray machine, and received injuries from blows. He complained about the incident but without result.
Ozgur Saglam rejected an arbitrary search in July 2001 at the X-Ray machine, and was then taken to a prison department where there were no surveillance camera and he was there beaten and threatened. Cengiz Bal was attacked on the way to court in Istanbul because he would not take off his belt. His complaint about the incident achieved no result.
And not just here... The attacks and arbitrary behaviour also continue in the prisoner transport and in the DGM itself.
After Mehmet Kulaksiz, Riza Yildirim and Hikmet Kale shouted slogans outside the DGM in 2001, their hands were chained to the vehicle seats.
In August 2001 Serdar Karacelik was taken to court. Because he rejected an arbitrary search by the soldiers, he was chained to the vehicle seat and taken to Istanbul and back in this manner. While being taken to court in July 2001, Hasan Sahingoz was attacked at the X-Ray machine and his bare feet were stepped on and crushed. His hands were chained to the seat in the transport vehicle.
Birol Abatay and 10 other people were put in a small vehicle which travelled for hours without ventilation, causing five of the prisoners to faint. One of them had to be taken to hospital.
When Zeki Dogan returned from his November 20, 2002 hearing in Istanbul, his wrist was badly swollen because on the long journey the soldier in charge of him had deliberately tightened his handcuffs. He still suffers pain. All complaints about all these occurrences have yielded no result.
None of the duty personnel even had investigative proceedings started against them.
Prisoners’ shoes are forcibly removed. Prisoners took off their shoes and went to the hearing barefoot as a form of protest. Then the state decided that this the shoes were a weapon for use against the soldiers and a protest against the court. So it started proceedings against the prisoners.
Handcuffs are not removed even to go to the toilet. Cigarettes, matches and lighters are given or not given depending on the caprice of the senior soldier in charge.The journeys to court take place in poor hygiene conditions, in vehicles divided into cells.
Eating during a 12 hour journey in handcuffs is very difficult, especially when food like jam or butter is distributed. Going to and from court is an additional form of torture.
With hands chained to seats it is almost inevitable that prisoners’ arms or wrists will be broken if the vehicle crashes. This is all derived from a state of mind dating from slavery times, enshrined in no laws or statutes but still put into practice.
Searches and pillage...
In a high-security establishment where all those who come and go are strictly checked, searches take place every two weeks in the form of destruction and pillage.
During searches everything is laid waste and all objects that appeal to the guards are simply stolen, openly or covertly. Letters which have already been checked are sometimes removed individually from their envelopes and left lying in the room. All kinds of newspaper articles, photos, written material etc. are confiscated at a whim. Those who object are accused of endangering security and a written record is made, leading to punishment. This was why the prisoner Ergun Gun was given a six-month disciplinary punishment and a one month denial of correspondence. If somebody objects to the searches the staff simply do more damage and leave everything lying in the middle of the room. Even items bought from the canteen and not opened, such as sugar, tea or detergent are opened and poured on the floor.
Half-full garbage sacks, which are supposed to be put out when they are full are emptied outside in the courtyard (the „courtyard“ is no bigger than the cell) or else in the middle of the cell itself. Mustafa Capardasa, Faruk Kadioglu, Ergun Gun, Hasan Gokhan, Ismail Bahadir, Ayhan Ozyurt, Uzeyir Karahasanoglu, Birol Ozan, Bayram Saz and many others have had the garbage emptied into their cells in this way. Some writings of Hakki Akca, Suleyman Acar and Umit Gunger were confiscated during a cell search in the middle of 2002 and when a complaint was made, Suleyman Acar had his right to correspondence taken away. During one of these arbitrary cell searches presents made personally by Fikret Akar were secretly stolen, as was a songbook belonging to Ozgur Hancioglu and an address book belonging to Serdar Karacelik.
Moreover, it has become a general practice for books, archive materials, medical prescriptions, home-made newspapers and magazines and plastic bottles to be confiscated by the staff. All complaints are fruitless. Either it is claimed that there is not enough proof or else no investigation is carried out because the prison administration tells lies about the incident. The prison director and a lawyer are supposed to be present duirng cell searches but it never happens. And because they are not present when items are stolen no written proof can be supplied. If enquiries are made about the items later, it is said that they have not been found, or else no reply is received whatsoever.
Letters and complaints by prisoners …
Letters are the most basic and important means of communication for prisoners. But one can only guess how many letters coming in and out disappear. One is forced to send letters by registered mail or a courier service and spend more. Some of the letters coming in or going out are deemed „disturbing“ and are destroyed. Four registered letters Mehmet Kulaksiz sent to people on the Death Fast were destroyed, even down to the stamps. A complaint about it proved futile, for reasons that are well-known. A letter was sent to Fikret Akar in January 2002 mentioning an article about the Death Fast in the New York Times. For this reason the letter did not reach Fikret Akar and was destroyed. A letter sent to Serdar Karacelik in August 2001 was removed because a photo was glued to the paper. When he complained about this arbitrary and unjust measure he was told there was no proof and proceedings were stopped. A letter sent to Ergun Gun was returned to the sender. It also contained a note from the prison administration warning him not to send such letters again. Ercan Gullu wrote to the prisoner Ali Sahin, who is on the Death Fast and is in Bayrampasa Prison Hospital. The letter was returned with the claim that there was no such person. But Ali Sahin is still there. The letters that Nurettin Kaya, Savas Oner and Veysel Demir jointly wrote in August 2002 and sent by registered post to Kutahya were destroyed because they had been written jointly. All complaints were unsuccessful. One could give dozens of other examples of arbitrariness in relation to letters. For example, the price of stamps was raised from 200,000 lira to 400,000. This was abolished following protests. Yet a further problem arises from the „reading commission“ which crosses out words and sentences it finds disturbing in letters, thereby making the letter partly illegible.
Health problems and transportation to hospital:
Arbitrariness and indifference are dominant here. Nobody who goes to the prison infirmary is given a proper examination, the symptoms are merely noted, medication given and the prisoner is sent back. Some doctors do make efforts but the prison staff prevent a proper doctor-patient relationship developing. This adversely affects therapy. Even though it is a high-security prison, searches are carried out every time people go in and out of the infirmary and doctors and patients are not left alone in the treatment room. Because the doctors do nothing, dozens of cases of illness are not treated. Not only is there no examination but sometimes the wrong medication is prescribed, causing serious health damage. Complaints are futile.
Sinan Toku went to the infirmary with a problem. The medication he was given worsened his condition and he had to be hospitalised. In hospital he was told that the wrong medication had been prescribed and he was given new medication and a new appointment was made for him to be examined. But he was not able to come to the follow-up appointment.
Fikret Akar needed a filling, but he was told that the equipment for that was not available and they tried to have his tooth removed. He refused and with difficulty he managed to get a hospital appointment. But treatment there was prevented on the grounds that they did not have the right equipment. And then he was not able to have an eye check-up – the excuse was that he did not have 40 million lira in his account.
Ahmet Aksu has chronic sinusitis, headaches and shortage of breath. But the needed medication is not supplied, supposedly because it is too expensive, and the doctor sends him back with an aspirin and does not bother to give him an examination. When he complained of weakness the doctor told him: „Eat something and it will go away.“ But he feels as unwell as he did before.
Adiguzel Ozdemir fell ill suddenly and was only taken to the infirmary after hours had passed. The doctor there thought nothing was wrong and prescribed medication that poisoned him. So he lost all confidence and no longer takes any medication. Prisoners’ appeals to be transferred to hospital for the treatment they cannot receive in the infirmary are only granted after numerous applications. And even those who make it to hospital often don’t get treated because of the arbitrary behaviour of the soldiers. Turan Bulut was taken to hospital twice for blood tests. But he could not be treated because the soldiers would not remove his handcuffs. Turgay Kurt has had eye trouble since October 2002. He was taken to hospital after long delays but he was returned without treatment because the soldiers did not remove his handcuffs in the treatment room. When he complained to the state prosecutor the latter replied, „What if you had escaped?“
Erhan Ozkaya was taken to hospital three times because of his problems. He was supposed to be X-Rayed but did not have 30 million lira in his account. So he just went to the hopital and back. He was only X-Rayed in the end after a payment was made.
In October 2002, Ozgur Hancioglu rejected treatment in the infirmary in the presence of prison guards, so he was sent back without receiving treatment. When he complained, nothing was done. The infirmary doctor swore at Emrah Akbaba and threatened him, because his application for medication did not conclude with „Respectfully yours“. Gencali Karabulut, Guldede Ceren and Aziz Dogan have psychological problems and suffer from frequent attacks but nothing is done. The health problems that arise from medication and treatment are accompanied by problems arising from lack of hygiene in the cells. The water is only turned on for 20-25 minutes a day. Because it is drainage water, it is not sterilised and so is unhealthy. Nor can this water be boiled, because prisoners have to pay for electricity. Warm water is only available once a week for 20-25 minutes. Often it does not flow. Sometimes there is no warm water for weeks. Anyway, it is impossible for three people to take a shower in just 20 minutes. Besides, there is no warning as to which days the warm water will be turned on. Sometimes it is turned on in the early morning hours, sometimes in the middle of the night. It depends on the whim of the prison administration.
The canteen and medication …
Necessary items like underwear, towels, stockings and so on which are brought to the prisoners by their families are not taken.
In the canteen, these items are far more expensive than usual. In this case the most basic human needs of the prisoners are not met unless their families hand money over. Moreover, items ordered from the canteen are not supplied on arbitrary grounds, or else the wrong items are delivered. This can go on for weeks, and items that are really needed like strong thread, mirrors, scissors, adhesive tape and so on are not sold. Even items for cutting hair are not sold or made available. Sometimes even items like thread and mirrors which were previously on sale in the canteen are later removed from the cells. The tokens needed for making purchases from the canteen are handed out one by one. If something is needed and it is ordered it often happens that it is not supplied, nor can it be bought, so problems arise with regard to meetings one’s needs.
Denial of the right to a defence
Firstly, prisoners are unable to meet their lawyers for long periods, because of arbitrary searches. If you can see your lawyer you can only prepare your defence based on the points that they themselves have noticed. Prisoners cannot take paper, pens/pencils or writing materials with them. So they forget many details of their conversations with their lawyer and are not able to incorporate this in their defence. The lawyers’ case files can only be handed to the prisoners if the prison administration gives permission.
It is entirely up to the caprice of the prison administration whether prisoners get to read the files, and how long they are allowed to if they are. For example the case files of Mehmet Kulaksiz were only handed to him a month after his lawyer submitted them. And the files of Ali Kaplan, Nurettin Kaya, Serdar Karacelik and Galip Dogan were not handed in to them for a long time and this only changed after a complaint was made. Frustrating the right to a defence is not just observed in meeting the lawyers. Hundreds of complaints about violations of legality in the prison regulations have been unsuccessful up to the present. Or else legal proceedings are avoided. And the court of appeal is prevented from taking it up because one is forced to exceed the 24-hour deadline since the prison administration only gave the response of the prosecutor’s office after this delay elapsed. Until recently the prosecutor’s office did not even think it necessary to investigate complaints. If somebody was brought to a hearing, the prosecutor did not deal with it but left the details to a secretary. The complaint lodged at the second Tekirdag penal court about such inexpert and illegal behaviour was unsuccessful.
Fikret Akar’s defence, which he wished to lodge with the state prosecutor’s office in October 2001 was taken away by a prison guard. The pretext was that it contained sentences critical of the F-Type prisons. Fikret Akar stated that this was an arbitrary excuse and wanted written proof. After that he was taken to a room and beaten. (He made complaints about these incidents on 8.10.2001 and 10.10.2001.) At the same time the defence of Gencali Karabulut was taken away by prison guards. Nothing is known about what has been done in relation to these charges, which concern events not covered by surveillance cameras. Oktay Yildiz was not brought before a court, on the grounds that there had been no judicial request.
Notes that Hikmet Kale and Mehmet Kulaksiz made for their defence were removed during a search and never returned. The right to a defence was excluded. Letters that Birol Abatay sent to a friend accused in the same case which offered a pattern for what defence to make disappeared. Prisoners accused in the same case are not allowed to see each other, cannot hold joint meetings with the lawyers and so there are serious problems in preparing a defence. The visiting day for lawyers is Friday. The searches which happen every two weeks take place as well as cell transfers take place on these days and this considerably shortens the amount of time prisoners have to speak to their lawyers. So the right to a defence is being undercut. In addition to the difficulties the lawyers have, there is another problem. Mustafa Capardasa could not see his lawyer, so he wrote letters to the lawyers Bedia Cicek and Ali Rıza Dizdar on January 17, 2002. But the lawyers never received these letters.
Some violations of rights and attacks that are experienced
Ali Kaplan was sent a watch by his family in October 2002. This was rendered useless and then given to him. He asked the prison administration about it and was given the unserious reply that „It was already broken, so make a complaint about that.“ When Yilmaz Coskun intervened at the visitor’s cabin in October 2002 because his wife was verbally abused, he was subjected to attacks and threats. His complaint ws not followed up and he was punished. The cell of Turgay Kurt, Orhan Ogur and Mahir Ates was attackedby the director and guards in July 2002, on the pretext that they were carrying out a search. They wer attacked when they sought to defend themselves. As a consequence of these attacks Mahir and Turgay received contusions as well as abrasions tothe arms and legs.
In addition Orhan Ogur broke his nail and it started to bleed. After the attack the assailants left the cell quickly. The wounded were treated in the infirmary only hours later, and it was done in a quite negligent manner. Their complaints about the attack were fruitless.
As if that were not enough, they received a six-month disciplinary punishment and a 45-day denial of correspondence. At the same time they had problems with the water supply. Asif it were not enough that they had no water for days, they also received nothing to eat because they could not wash their eating utensils.
Because of the stench and the filth, the toilet could not be used. Their cells were changed after the prisoners complained. In August 2002 there was a problem with a plug in the cell of Nurettin Kaya, Veysel Demir and Savas Oner. A technician came, but so did eight to 10 guards and they carried out an arbitrary search in the cell and laid waste to everything.
Serdar Karacelik looked out the window on to the corridor in February 2002. By chance somebody was going past he said hello. Then a horde of guards charged into his cell.
This event was recordedin writing and when he rejected the threat made to him about looking out the window, he was forcibly brought to see the prison director. Serdar Karacelik asked the latter what law stated that it was forbidden to look out a window and asked if it was written down anywhere. The deputy director said, “in my law” and demanded a statement. When Serdar refused the statement, he was attacked and wounded. Later he made a complaint asking wether it was some law of the prison director. But he never received a reply and the matter ended there. And when he was back in an isolation cell he was personally attacked by the head guard and the prison director for resisting an arbitrary cell search.
Nurettin Kaya ordered newspapers from the canteen in October 2002. Although he had money in his account, he was not given the newspapers with the excuse that no money was forthcoming. Later money was taken out of his account for the newspapers that were never delivered. All his complaints were fruitless, his money was stolen from him.
Ahmet Guzel, Mehmet Kulaksiz, Hikmet Kale and Faruk Kadioglu were not given photos of family members in October 2002, on the pretext that it had nothing to do with them. Complaints were fruitless. The complaints of all prisoners about the execution of Yunus Guzel in the Istanbul Police Deapartment were not pursued on the grounds that it had nothing to do with them. (If the massacre and torture of political prisoners did not concern them, the the question is, whom does it concern, that is an entirely different aspect.) The complaints to the prison administration about their arbitrary behaviour were fruitless.
When Sinan Keskin exchanged a bedsheet, he was threatened and a written statementwasmade about it because a corner of the sheet was torn. This was done by the same prison administration that had given him the torn sheet in the first place. In August-September 2001, charges were made against Oktay Yildiz, Gultekin Toprak and Ercan Gullu because their bedsheets were torn at the edges and they received a six month disciplinary punishment and a one month deprivation of correspondence.
When items belonging to Turan Bulut went missing while he was being transported from Edirne in March 2001, he made a complaint. The administrations of Edirne and Tekirdag F-Type prisons accused each other but a positive result never came of it.
On November 15, 2002 a book of poetry from Ahmet Tellil to Yilmaz Gok as well as an encyclopaedia sent to Ayhan Ozyurt and three books sent to Ufuk Ince as well as a book sent to Hakki Akca allhad their bindings torn. The excuse was that they were made of a hard material. Complaints about the incident were futile.
In a cell occupied by Erkan Bulbul, Taylan Aydogdu and Cemal Agirman in August 2002, broken chair was not replaced for weeks. Complaints about it were not processed. Only after their families complained were steps taken to replace it. In a cell occupied by Mustafa Capardasa, Faruk Kadioglu and Ergun Gun a spoon made out of soft material broke. Although the prisoners made any number of applications to the administration to replace the spoon, this wish was not granted, and they were told over and over again to make an application. Thus a simple problem was deliberately turned into a complicated one.
Selami Kurnaz was forced to undress and be searched at the prison entrance while returning from a court appearance on August 1, 2002.
Vedat Duskuner was brought to Bayrampasa Prison Hospital at the end of 2001 because he could not use his arm. Although treatment was not complete, he was brought back to prison. At the entrance he was pressurised to undergo a humiliating search. When he refused he was attacked and the attackers particularly targeted his lame arm. After the attack he was completely unable to move his arm for two days.
Various torture methods are used: Iin some cells a power cut is triggered from outside. In others loud music is played, after the corridor window is left open. Restrictions on books continue. One person can have a maximum of three books. Any more than that are confiscated by the administration.
Aprisoner has no money. Another wants to give him a kettle because he already has two and wants to deposit one. But this was not permitted on the grounds that he has first to ask the Justice Minister. So a deliberate effort is made to disadvantage prisoners who have little money and to undermine solidarity among prisoners.
Family members who do not speak Turkish have difficulties at the visiting cabins and their visits are hampered. Those who speak Kurdish are sworn at, threatened and even physically attacked. The meeting of the prisoner Hasan Gokhan with his mother who travelled specially from her home town was repeatedly interrupted and undermined and the threat of stopping the visit altogether was made. A complaint to the prison administration about it was at first rejected because they disputed that the incident had happened, but later a request was processed. But nothing further came of it. In the visiting cabins the light is turned off before the visit ends, and family members are told in a coarse and insolent way that the visit is over. This is done to put pressure on the families. Newspapers brought by visitors and not banned are arbitrarily held back for days and only handed over after numerous applications. Food is often left in the corridor uncovered and distributed in ways damaging to health. The guards bellow while handing out the food, which often has hairs and dead flies etc. in it. The food is sometimes shoved right into the cell through a slit in the door in a humiliating manner. Those who were wounded in the prison storming of December 19, who still bear the traces of innumerable gas bombs on their bodies, have never received treatment. Fifteen of the victims of the assault have symptoms like hair falling out, itching, reddening of the skin, a burning sensation, pimples, shortness of breath etc. The applications to treat these prisoners in hospital were dismissed as trivial. Serdar Karacelik received gunshot wounds in the right leg, the left knee and the hand on December 19, but was not treated for a long time.
When he was in Edirne, he received an appointment to go to the hospital on March 2, 2001. But he was transferred to Tekirdag the same day. So his treatment was prevented and he has had to become accustomed to foreign bodies. Kemal Ayhan made a sacrifice action while on the Death Fast. The consequences have never been properly treated. Since bits of wire have never been removed from his foot, his problems continue.
After a court hearing, they wanted Halil Ibrahim Sahin to strip naked. When he objected, they said: “This is an F-Type prison. When you come back you are stripped naked and searched.“ Then they attacked him and undressed him by force. When he was then ordered to undress and refused, he was attacked again. Complaints about the attacks were futile. Nurettin Erenler has been held in an isolation cell from March 3, 2001, the day he arrived in the F-Type prison of Tekirdag, until the present (December 2002).
This is just a small selection of what is experienced in Tekirdag F-Type Prison.
P.S.: The information set out here is from a letter of complaint by the prisoner Umit Gunger, who wrote to the State Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic on December 12, 2002.
The TAYAD Families
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