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Ned­im Tür­fent, a jour­nal­ist incar­cer­at­ed in Van’s high secu­ri­ty prison talks in a let­ter sent to his fam­i­ly about con­di­tions of pris­on­ers threat­ened by the pan­dem­ic and rais­es the alert, once again, con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures, the pro­hi­bi­tion of vis­its, of sports and of any oth­er activ­i­ty, thus trans­form­ing the pris­on­ers’ time into heavy iso­la­tion. He also talks about the vio­la­tions of rights and the absence of san­i­tary mea­sures for detainees at risk, par­tic­u­lar­ly the ones who are ill.

In his let­ter, Ned­im spec­i­fies that san­i­tary prod­ucts and dis­in­fec­tants required because of Covid-19, are insuf­fi­cient and that masks are not pro­vid­ed, but sold.

The sick prisoner, abandoned to death”

Sig­nalling that dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, new vio­la­tions of rights have been added to pre-exist­ing ones, Ned­im spec­i­fies that “Iso­la­tion has reached a supe­ri­or lev­el, and arbi­trary mea­sures are unceas­ing. The fact of not apply­ing any san­i­tary mea­sures regard­ing detainees over age 65 and sick pris­on­ers, means that these peo­ple have been more or less aban­doned to death.

All activ­i­ties, includ­ing sports, fam­i­ly vis­its and those from lawyers being for­bid­den, aggra­vat­ed iso­la­tion is imposed on the pris­on­ers who are in three-per­son cells, or alone. Par­tic­u­lar­ly those sen­tenced to per­pe­tu­ity who are only allowed one or two hours in the yard have seen their time out­side fur­ther restrict­ed. Instead of being held in cells of three peo­ple, each cell hav­ing an access to a bit of yard, these pris­on­ers are locked down in nar­row, closed cells in total iso­la­tion. To requests made to the Min­istry of Jus­tice, so that their sched­ules be relaxed allow­ing them access to clean air, at least dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, the author­i­ties have opposed a wall of silence.

No spe­cif­ic mea­sures are tak­en con­cern­ing con­demned pris­on­ers or those under tem­po­rary incar­cer­a­tion even those with ill­ness­es declared by the Min­istry of Health, and iden­ti­fied as being at risk. Above all, even vital­ly need­ed care rel­a­tive to their con­di­tion they had main­tained as best they could, has been suspended.

At a time when a pack of laws have been pro­mul­gat­ed, polit­i­cal pris­on­ers being exclud­ed from them can­not even have access to exist­ing rights. For detainees whose remain­ing sen­tence is of less than one year and who nor­mal­ly should be trans­ferred out of the high secu­ri­ty prison to a nor­mal one, and who are also enti­tled to lib­er­a­tion under judi­cial con­trol, the prison admin­is­tra­tion pre­tends to be blind.

Specif­i­cal­ly Arafat Özek, a sick pris­on­er of 68 years, suf­fer­ing from asth­ma, res­pi­ra­to­ry and thy­roid prob­lems as well as hyper­ten­sion, is not lib­er­at­ed despite the fact he has only 9 more months left to his sen­tence, thus, less than a year. Some of the oth­er pris­on­ers in the same sit­u­a­tion of less than a year left to the sen­tences and who could also ben­e­fit from their rights: Cahit Hez­er, Azim Söke­men, Kemal Kahra­man, M. Ali Kürtüm, Mehvan Tas, Hakan Fırat, Kasım Temel, Orhan Ölmez, Suphi Çetinkaya, Tahir Gürdal.

No hygienic products or disinfectants” 

Despite our repeat­ed requests, nei­ther cologne water or gloves are pro­vid­ed. More­over, masks and dis­in­fec­tants are not pro­vid­ed free of charge to the pris­on­ers. The sale of masks, despite it being for­bid­den by the gov­ern­ment, con­tin­ues in the estab­lish­men­t’s can­teen. Poor qual­i­ty prod­ucts are sold to the pris­on­ers at out­ra­geous prices.

Fol­low­ing the spe­cial amnesty applied by the pack of laws, the prison has emp­tied and those detainees who worked in the bak­ery and the kitchen have gone home. The new­ly-req­ui­si­tioned, not hav­ing the required skills, the vari­ety, qual­i­ty and nutri­tion­al con­tent of meals have dimin­ished. Even the bread that is dis­trib­uted is some­times not suf­fi­cient­ly cooked and shapeless.

Although deci­sions from the con­sti­tu­tion­al tri­bunal have estab­lished jurispru­dence in the mat­ter, sub­scrip­tions to the news­pa­pers Yeni Yasam and Xwe­bun are not put through. Evrensel, the sub­scrip­tion to which is paid in advance, was not dis­trib­uted for 10 days in April, with no rea­son pro­vid­ed for this. Tele 1, the only oppo­si­tion sta­tion autho­rized in our estab­lish­ment was removed from the cen­tral audio­vi­su­al sys­tem, accord­ing to the estab­lish­men­t’s author­i­ties, “for insults against the AKP”.

What can be done?

On Octo­ber 9 2019, the Turk­ish court of appeals hav­ing con­firmed the ver­dict, Ned­im Tür­fent, a jour­nal­ist with the DIHA agency, is present­ly serv­ing a sen­tence of 8 years and 9 months of impris­on­ment. He was con­demned for invent­ed acts of ter­ror­ism, fol­low­ing an inequitable tri­al dur­ing which scores of wit­ness­es declared they had been tor­tured in order to tes­ti­fy against him. He spent close to two years in iso­la­tion in atro­cious con­di­tions. Deter­mined to go on writ­ing, he con­tin­ues com­pos­ing poems dur­ing his captivity.

MLSA, IPI and PEN Inter­na­tion­al sup­port Ned­im, demand his imme­di­ate lib­er­a­tion and a sol­i­dar­i­ty cam­paign is under­way. You can also give your sup­port by sign­ing this peti­tion.

You can also sup­port him with let­ters and cards. But in order to insure recep­tion of your cor­re­spon­dence, be patient and please wait for the end of the pan­dem­ic which also affects the dis­tri­b­u­tion of cor­re­spon­dence in the pris­ons.

Ned­im Türfent
Van Yük­sek Güven­lik­li Kapalı Ceza İnf­az Kurumu

*You will find address­es for oth­er pris­on­ers HERE.

Kedis­tan mag­a­zine will per­sist in encour­ag­ing sup­port for Ned­im, as we are doing for Nûdem Durak along­side the col­lec­tive, a cam­pa­gin you can fol­low here.

No need to remind every­one that if “indi­vid­u­als” are thus put in the lime­light, as were Aslı Erdoğan, Zehra Doğan in years past…it is because they express them­selves for every­one and not only for their own per­son. It is also because the cause and the rights they defend are human caus­es affect­ing every­one and not only a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ty or a call to nation­al­ist feeling.

Putting an end to polit­i­cal hostages in the Turk­ish regime, see­ing those hostages lib­er­at­ed can only move for­ward thanks to the com­ing togeth­er of a col­lec­tive of good will.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges –
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Nedim Türfent
Auteur, mem­bre d’hon­neur de Kedistan 
Jour­nal­iste, cor­re­spon­dant de DIHA, empris­on­né du 2016 au 29 novem­bre 2022. Mem­bre hon­ori­fique du Eng­lish PEN. Jour­nal­ist, DIHA cor­re­spon­dent, impris­oned from 2016 to Novem­ber 29, 2022. Mem­bre hon­ori­fique Hon­orary member.