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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, en prison depuis 2016. Membre honorifique du English PEN