Turkey: violent incident at a high-security prison exposed

A delegation of lawyers from the Diyarbakır Bar Association and the Diyarbakır Branch of the Libertarian Lawyers Association recently visited Elazığ High-Security Closed Prison No. 1 in response to the disturbing reports of violent attack against political prisoners that have garnered public attention. According to their statement, the visit was aimed at unravelling the circumstances surrounding the violent incident, determining the facts, and offering necessary legal support to the affected parties.

Objective and Significance: The legal team’s objective in visiting Elazığ High Security Closed Prison No. 1 was twofold: firstly, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation that led to the reported acts of violence, and secondly, to ensure that proper legal assistance is extended to the victims. This visit serves as a critical step towards uncovering the truth behind the attacks in which two prisoners attacked political prisoners and providing support based on verified information.

Key Revelations

During their visit and extensive interviews with detainees and witnesses, the lawyers uncovered crucial details that shed light on the incident:

Preceding Developments: It was revealed that a search had taken place in the right corridor of Block E prior to August 6, 2023. However, it came to light that no search was conducted in the rooms of the inmates who were later identified as the alleged perpetrators of the violent incident.

The lawyers also discovered that inmates who are believed to have participated in the attacks had been gathering information about other inmates before the incident, specifically focusing on the charges against them. This behaviour suggests a level of planning and coordination.

August 7, 2023 Incident: On the night of August 6, one of the alleged perpetrators had been taken to a hospital due to complaints of heart problems. Subsequently, he was returned to prison on August 7. In the early hours of the morning, around 03:00 a.m., he overpowered a prison guard and confiscated the guard’s device used to open cell doors. The inmate then managed to open the cell of another inmate, proclaiming loudly that he represented the “Deep State” and had obtained permission from higher authorities.

Targeted Violence

Two attackers then opened the cells of other inmates and subjected them to a barrage of insults, threats, and physical violence. An iron door handle which the first attacker seized from the prison guard and sharp objects were used as weapons to carry out the assaults.

Victims’ Testimonies

The detainees who experienced the attacks first-hand provided harrowing accounts of the incident:

  • H.A. stated that his cell was breached by the attackers, who threatened and physically assaulted him. He also reported being beaten and injured.
  • S.Y. described how he was subjected to physical violence in his cell, resulting in injuries to her groin area.
  • M.Y. disclosed that he suffered injuries to his right hand from a cutting instrument, as well as a piercing wound on his left upper abdomen.
  • M.O. recounted being taken hostage during the attack and injured in the head area.

?Negligence or Connivance?

The victims collectively reported that the violent attack commenced around 3:00 a.m. and persisted for nearly an hour. Shockingly, they highlighted that neither the prison staff nor the security personnel intervened to put an end to the ordeal.

Witnesses’ Accounts

Witnesses among the inmate population revealed alarming statements made by the attackers during the assault. The attackers allegedly communicated with phrases like “Don’t kill until I say kill,” “He is losing blood, kill him now,” and “I represent the Deep State.” Witnesses noted that the attackers questioned whether the punishment for betraying the state should be limited to imprisonment.

Most significantly, the witnesses recounted that a voice they believed belonged to the chief security officer assured the attackers of their safety, stating, “I swear to you on my honour and dignity, I assure you, nothing will happen to you.”

Demand for Investigation / Another case of impunity?

The Diyarbakır Bar Association and the Libertarian Lawyers Association have jointly called for a thorough investigation into the incident. Expressing deep concern over the reported events, they have urged the Ministry of Justice and the General Directorate of the Prisoners to address the violent attack and injuries within Elazığ High Security Closed Prison No. 1. As of now, there has been no official response or statement from the authorities, leaving many anxiously awaiting actions taken to address this unsettling situation.

Categories: Unjust / Wrongful Convictions

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