Photos of former judge Teoman Gökçe, 49, who died of a heart attack in solitary confinement on April 2, 2018, have been revealed by the Bold Medya news site, shedding light on the unsanitary conditions in which he was forced to live.
Photographs show Gökçe’s belongings strewn on the floor and his dinner left untouched on the radiator. The windows of his cell were closed so that no light could enter the room. Gökçe had repeatedly requested to be moved from solitary confinement to an ordinary cell with other inmates before his death.
CCTV footage at the prison shows a distressed Gökçe being taken downstairs by 10 guards. CPR is started while waiting for an ambulance. As the ambulance approaches, three nurses come out and continue CPR, but Gökçe does not seem to respond. According to one of the guards, Gökçe’s face had turned purple and his mouth was foaming.
Records show Gökçe was taken to hospital 40 minutes after he was found unconscious in his cell. His family asked why it took so long for him to be hospitalized. They also wanted to know if Gökçe had undergone a physical examination before his death and if the doctors had discovered a heart problem.
Gökçe was arrested on July 21, 2016 for allegedly participating in a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. He was charged with membership in an armed terrorist group and attempting to overthrow the government. Gökçe was sent to Sincan T-type prison in Ankara, where we were classified as “dangerous inmates” and not allowed to interact with other inmates.
Following the failed putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup struggle. More than 130,000 civil servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily dismissed from their functions for membership or alleged relations with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws which do not subject to any judicial or parliamentary control.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement, a global civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the coup attempt, a said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on November 22.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has launched a war against the Gülen movement after the December 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations that implicated the former prime minister’s family members and entourage. minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Dismissing the investigations as a coup and a Gülenist plot, the AKP government branded the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. The government locked up thousands of people, including many prosecutors, judges and police involved in the investigation, as well as journalists who reported on them.
The AKP government intensified the crackdown on the movement following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt which it accused Gülen of orchestrating. Gülen and the movement strongly deny any involvement in the failed putsch or any terrorist activity.
Gökçe has repeatedly appealed to the Constitutional Court, claiming that his solitary confinement was illegal. However, all of his requests to be transferred to an ordinary cell were denied.
Gökçe was not the first inmate to be found dead in an isolation cell. Former Professor Muzaffer Özcengiz deceased in his cell on April 27, 2019. In a final letter, Özcengiz said the cell was unsanitary and he was being held in inhumane conditions. “As my living conditions deteriorate, my health also deteriorates,” he said. “My right to life is violated, and for this reason, I ask to be transferred to an ordinary cell.”
Özcengiz was also arrested for alleged links to Gülen, but was not told why he was being held in solitary confinement.
Former Brigadier General Zaki Hasan committed suicide in his cell in Silivri prison on April 30, 2019.
Former deputy political inspector Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, 44, died in a solitary quarantine cell in August 2020. Post-mortem photographs revealed that his cell was dirty and damp. He was left alone in the cell as he struggled with multiple health issues.
Speaking to the Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish service, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said the Justice Ministry had not disclosed the exact number of people in solitary cells.
However, he said he believed the number increased significantly after the government declared a state of emergency following the attempted coup. “The ministry is silent on the conditions in the solitary cells,” he said. “Inmates in solitary confinement are left to their fate. They do not have adequate access to health care, they are not allowed to walk in the yard or participate in activities.
Gergerlioğlu added that according to the law, a detainee can only be held in an isolation cell for a maximum of 20 days, but currently there are detainees in isolation cells who have been there for more than 20 days. two years.
Human rights activists said the number of prisoners in solitary cells was in the thousands.