According to the information obtained from the press and demand of the Human Rights Association’s Headquarters, we received the information that political inmates who were exiled and transferred from different prisons to the Van T-Type Closed Prison were forced to strip search in the inmate reception rooms (cell) at the prison entrance, hands and feet of the inmates not accepting this treatment were firstly cuffed behind the back, in a similar way to hogtie, then the inmates strip searched by means of torture and maltreatment, in the aftermath of the incident no information were received from the prison, and the worried families asked for help according to the statements of the prisoners. Thereupon, it was decided to form a committee with the Human Rights Association’s Van Branch and members of the Libertarian Lawyers’ Platform (Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Platformu), make the necessary meetings and assessments in the aforementioned prison, and to prepare a report on the violations and solution to the problem.
Inmate Visits Made by Our Committee
Members of Libertarian Lawyers Platform Attr. Ümit Dede and Attr. Cüneyt Ergün, and executives of Van Branch of the Human Rights Association Attr. Erhan Dönmez and Attr. Cihan Yaman paid visits for inmates Şehmus Bülbül, Yakup Gündoğan, Müjdat Gündoğan, Cemal Aslan, Burhan Şık and Recep Adıyaman on 01.11.2017.
Statement of Şehmus Bülbül
We were transferred to the Van T-Type Closed Prison on 01.06.2017 at 13.00 pm. I was taken to a small room at reception. I was told there will be strip search. They handcuffed me when I rejected. They wanted to cuff my feet as well, but 5 or 6 prison officers started to randomly batter me when they failed to do so. Meanwhile, a prison officer was strangling me while another prison officer was trying to cover my mouth. After being battered about half an hour, I was exposed to strip search. Moreover, we have been going through many problems in the prison. I demand that necessary legal initiatives be carried out for these officers performing battery and torture.
Statement of Yakup Gündoğan
39 detained/convicted inmates and I were taken to the Van T-Type Prison from the Siirt Prison on 01.05.2017. We signed a document indicating that we haven’t been exposed to battery and maltreatment during our transfer to the prison in the first entrance. Despite this, strip search was imposed upon us under the name of examination. When we didn’t accept, the warden told us “I was granted with the authority to torture”, then we were attacked, battered and forcibly strip searched. On 01.09.2017, the warden came with armored policemen and they wanted to take our friend Bilal Aydın. But we didn’t let them because of the previous torture and battery incidents. I demand that necessary legal initiatives be carried out for these officers performing battery and torture.
Statement of Cemal Arslan
My five (5) friends and I were transferred to the Van T-Type Closed Prison on 01.05.2017. We were told there was going to be a strip search. Upon rejecting this, we were battered, tortured and forcibly strip searched. Meanwhile, we were exposed to swearwords and insults by prison officials. Moreover, we are not given any Kurdish newspapers and other dissident books, magazines etc. I demand that necessary legal initiatives be carried out for these officers performing battery and torture.
Statement of Müjdat Gündoğan
We were transferred from the Siirt E-Type Closed Prison to the Van T-Type Closed Prison on 01.05.2017. There wasn’t any battery incident to me. My brother Yakup Gündoğan and his friends were battered and maltreated. They were exposed to torture by rear-handcuffing. I was hearing their voices while they were tortured. Later on 01.11.2017, prison officers came to our ward and threatened us by telling “if you don’t pull yourselves together we will take you one by one and you will bear the consequences. I demand that necessary legal initiatives be carried out for these officers performing battery and torture.
Statement of Burhan Şık
I have been detained since February 2016. We were transferred to Van T type Closed Prison on 01.06.2017. After being held in the prisoner reception rooms, I was subjected to serious physical intervention and battery under the name of searching. I was subjected to unmentionable swearwords and insults during this intervention. Phrases like “We are going to kill you, you are killing young soldiers, we will make you pay the price” were uttered. I demand that necessary legal initiatives be carried out for these officers performing battery and torture.
Statement of Recep Adıyaman
We were transferred to the Van T-Type Closed Prison on 01.06.2017. I have been convicted for 3 years. I want to tell about the practices that I have never seen before. Therefore, I demand that any kinds of initiatives be performed immediately. Although I had a medical operation three (3) months ago, I was subjected to battery and physical torture under the name of strip searching by some officials that I won’t even consider as prison officers, that cannot be defined as prison officers in my opinion. Furthermore, these interventions were performed while my hands and feet were cuffed (in a posture called hogtie), and I was strip searched. In the meantime, heavy swears were used against me. I cannot sleep since this battery incident. Every single part of my body hurts. I demand that necessary legal initiatives be carried out for these officers performing battery and torture.
Determination and Observations of Our Committee
- As the first and most urgent issue, the physical intervention and battery incidents which were carried out during the transfers and exiles to the Van T-Type Closed Prison under the name of searching in the prison entrance, has become horrifying.
- Inmates are exposed to strip search by means of cuffing their hands and feet behind the back.
- Prisoners are still being threatened with torture and maltreatment by the prison officials.
- The newspapers, magazines, books etc. which are demanded by the inmates, are not banned and levied are not given to inmates by the officials without showing any justification. Their freedom of information and right to access public information is restrained.
- With the state of emergency, provision of the International Human Rights Conventions and inmates’ rights defined in the constitution was suspended in practice. The administration of the Van-T Type Closed Prison has been performing the treatment and applications which are contrary to the current legal regulations and International Human Rights Conventions. This situation deeply concerns inmates, their relatives and us, human right defenders.
- In the Van T-Type Closed Prison, such treatments against the human dignity as strip searching and cuffing hands and feet behind the back have been performed. Inmates are exposed to violence, insults and maltreatment.
- Inmates’ constitutional rights such as freedom of information and right to access public information are restrained.
- Our committee confirmed the necessity of carrying out an effective investigation regarding the applications, physical conditions and the aforementioned violations in the prison. It was detected that the current situation is contrary to the national legislation and International Human Rights Conventions.
VAN BRANCH OF HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION and LIBERTARIAN LAWYERS’ PLATFORM