ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A 65-year-old prisoner, Koçer Özdal, who was seriously ill, lost his life in prison, although his death could have been prevented, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said on Wednesday.
Ayşe Acar Başaran, HDP Law and Human Rights Commission Spokesperson and MP for the city of Batman, said Özdal lost his life at the intensive care unit of a hospital while his hands and feet were cuffed, and without a chance to say a final goodbye to his family.
“Mr. Özdal, whose medical condition deteriorated under prison conditions, was asked to write a request to be taken to the infirmary although he could not read or write, and was kept in solitary confinement while his health worsened,” Başaran said.
According to the HDP member, human rights organizations, family members, and the pro-Kurdish party had demanded the 65-year-old’s release before his death.
“His remains were delivered in a coffin to his family from the prison that he had entered in 2014 in good health,” she added.
“Aside from the principles of justice, human rights, and universal law, no institution, state or person with [a] conscience should have allowed Mr. Özdal’s preventable death.”
In the last 17 years, 3,503 sick prisoners have lost their lives in Turkey’s prisons, the HDP says.
Başaran stated that the Kurdish prisoner’s case is a “clear” example “that the Turkish government continues to ignore these deaths.”
“Sick prisoners are being handcuffed and forced to travel in prison vehicles, and prison infirmaries prefer to evade prisoners demands instead of offering them treatment,” she said.
“It is no wonder that no permission to investigate is issued regarding criminal complaints against the misconduct of officials. If the Turkish government continues its current practices, 1,154 sick prisoners—more than 402 of them in serious conditions—may share Koçer Özdal’s fate.”
The HDP member called on the government to end these “unjust” practices and “stop causing the death of citizens [it is] obliged to serve.”
A sudden collapse of a two-year peace negotiations and ceasefire between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the failed military coup in July 2016, the Syrian civil war’s repercussions inside Turkey, and deteriorating ties with the US and other Western countries substantially reversed democratic advancements and led to the arrest of thousands of HDP members.
According to an HDP report from March, the number of political prisoners numbered around 50,000.
Over 60 Kurdish mayors and about 5,000 HDP party officials remain in prison.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany