Eleven opposition parties including the HDP have expressed strong opposition to the new Criminal Enforcement bill planned by the Turkish state. The bill makes provisions for the release of prisoners during the Corona crisis but crucially excludes the release of political prisoners.
Opposition parties have branded this exclusion as a cruel denial of political prisoners’ right to life and as a death sentence for the many thousands of political prisoners inside the Turkish carceral system.
According to research carried out this year, there are a total of 282,703 prisoners in 355 prisons. Revealing overcrowding at a levels never seen before in the history of Turkey. Poor nutrition, unheated and un-ventilated detention rooms, lack of daylight, inadequate medical staff, long waiting times for medical treatment, exclusive access to paid hygiene products and insufficient supply of clean and hot water; make the prisons a breeding ground for disease at the best of times. In the wake of the Corona crisis however, this risk is greatly increased.
The Turkish state’s authoritarian response to criticism has often been to imprison journalists, politicians, students and others who exercised their right free expression against the state. With the growing death toll of the Coronavirus however, opposition parties now argue that this criminal denial of civil and political rights is also a threat to the lives of thousands of prisoners.
The eleven parties are calling on ” legal and human rights organisations, opposition parties, all sections of the civil society opposition, trade unions, associations, professional organisations and all people of conscience to raise the voice of justice against this legislation and the discriminatory and inhuman attitude of the government.”