Kürkçü MP on human rights at PACE

Kürkçü MP has released a statement at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe about the human rights situation in Turkey

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Member of the Assembly (UEL), Mersin Peace and Democracy Block deputy, has released a statement at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) about the human rights situation in Turkey, under the light of recent prison fires
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Kürkçü MP stated that “13 prisoners in Turkey’s southeast Kurdish province of Şanlıurfa Penitentiary were burnt to death on Jun. 16”. Only 5 survived. All 18 were incarcerated in the same two-storey ward which was originally designed for 3. The victims had set their beds of inflammable material in order to protest their conditions. The prison guards were late to detect the situation; the fire squad was too late. The tragic deaths sparked successive series of revolt fires in Gaziantep, Osmaniye and Karaman prisons in the following days, all were headed and carried on by ordinary prisoners and children.


Indeed, underlined Kürkçü “Şanlıurfa Penitentiary, with over 1000 inmates in its wards originally designed for 300 comprises one of the corrupt links in Turkey’s chain of overcrowded and substandard prisons where 125.100 people are dumped according to recent Turkish Justice Ministry data”.

The deputy added that “as a member of parliamentary investigation commission of human rights, I have personally witnessed in Mersin, Osmaniye and Mardin Penitentiaries too that the inmates are subject to inhuman conditions; they are treated brutally, unlawfully, even in violation of existing restrictive laws and regulations”.



The number of prisoners has swollen up threefold of the total capacity of Turkey’s penitentiaries under a decade of Justice and Development Party rule. In 2001 Turkey’s prison population was 55,209. In one decade it grew 250 percent vis-à-vis 4.2 percent growth in general population.

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The situation is further aggravated – added Kürkçü MP – by Ankara’s adoption of “extermination” line against the Kurdish unrest and ongoing guerrilla war with the demand of self-rule for Turkey’s Kurds. 

8 thousand 995 of the inmates in Turkey’s prisons are political prisoners, whom the Turkish government prefers to designate as “terrorists””.

Among those “terrorists”, Kürkçü pointed out “9 are deputies elected in 2011 general elections, 16 are mayors, including the recently arrested mayor of Van, 442 elected provincial and municipal council members, headmen, some 500 students, 100 journalists and academics and opinion leaders. Lami Ozgen, leader of Turkey’s largest public servants unions confederation (KESK), and 71 colleagues who are under police custody since Monday, can join them after a prospective Specially Authorized Penal Court decision in the coming days”.

Speaking about Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, who is serving a life sentence in the Imrali Island, Kürkçü MP said that he “too suffers from this oppressive prison regime as he is denied visits by his family and lawyers since July 2011. His situation has sparked hunger strikes by Kurdish prisoners and 4 have burnt themselves to death in protest of Ocalan’s total isolation”.

According to an Associated Press survey in Sep. 2011, since 9/11 in 66 countries 119,044 people were arrested and 35,117 were convicted of terrorism charges. “More than half” of the convictions (…) came from two countries that have been accused of using anti-terror laws to crack down on dissent, Turkey and China. Turkey alone accounted for a third of all convictions, with 12,897.”

Kürkçü ended his statement by saying that “A member of the Council of Europe, Turkey in March 2004 was invited by the Assembly to carry out thorough reform in order to bring the country in line with the standards of the Council’s values in the post-monitoring process. Even after 9 years Turkey is yet to fulfill almost all of the 12 points raised by the assembly”.

Quoting Fyodr Dostoyevsky, the BDP deputy said that “‘The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering the prisons’ said Fyodr Dostoyevsky in his novel The House of the Dead, as far back as in 1861. Looking at its prisons, who could say that Turkey’s degree of civilization matches the standards of the Council of Europe.

ANF / STRASBOURG