By BETUL SAGKOL
In order to understand the value given to human rights in a modern society, value given to children, old people and disabled people can be used as a very important measure. These groups, which are in a more fragile position than the other members of the society, should be considered in a privileged position in the regulations and implementations to be carried out. Modern states are obliged to make special regulations on these issues. Disabled people have a special place in these three groups. Each obstacle that has been placed on an individual has the potential to affect disabled people more than other individuals in the community.
Disability is defined both by the World Health Organization and by the United Nations’ “Declaration of the Rights of Disabled People” as a condition occurred because of disability and the loss and restriction of ability to do a job compared to a person who can be regarded as normal.
In the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the states parties to the convention are required to ensure the fundamental rights and freedoms of the disabled to be implemented, their rights and freedoms to be strengthened, to encourage the respect of their rights and human dignity, to combat with degrading practices directed towards the disabled in all areas of life, to ensure the protection and security of disabled in risk situations, including armed conflict situations, emergency humanitarian situations and natural disasters, to avoid unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of the liberties of disabled and to take all necessary precautions in an effective manner.
Article 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey protects everyone’s right to life. Article 61 stipulates the obligation of the state to take measures to ensure the protection of the disabled and to secure their integration into the community life.
Article 16/6 of the Law on the Execution of Penalties and Security stipulates that the execution of a sentenced prisoner unable to maintain his life alone in the circumstances of a penal execution institution due to a severe illness or disability and who is considered as not to cause a danger to the public safety, will be adjourned until he gets well.
In the case of Grimailovs v. Latvia, European Court of Human Rights, stated that the Prison is not suitable for an independent access of the paralytic prisoner (who has a physical disability and is wheelchair-bound) and that it is incompatible with respect for human dignity even to be kept for a limited period of time in a prison where the prisoner cannot easily wash himself and cannot use the toilet and decided that for the prisoner not having a support to facilitate his daily life and his movement in the prison is a violation of Article 3 of European Convention on Human Rights.
Though Turkey is a party to the Convention, thousands of people including seriously ill and congenital physical disabled were placed in custodial prisons and prisons with the assertion that they supported the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The disabled were held for months in the prison wards where even healthy people could not stand and in which the detainees were placed above the capacity.
Adil Oksuz, a faculty (academic) member of Sakarya University, who was alleged to have a role in the coup attempt, was released by the court after being detained. When Oksuz, who wanted to be detained again after the news about him showed up, couldn’t be found, his mother-in-law and his father-in-law were detained instead. His mother-in-law, Hatice Yıldırım was taken to the prison by wheelchair, although she was sick and wheelchair-bound.
Police Bilal Konakçı, who was injured as a 98 percent disabled person by the bomb explosion while trying to destroy the bomb left in front of a school, was arrested after being subjected to 21 days of detention although he was blind, had difficulty in walking and did not have one hand. The wife of Bilal Konakci told in the letter to the journalist Emin Çölaşan, the spokesman of the newspaper Sozcu, that her arrested husband had difficulties in going to the toilet and taking care of himself and he was fed by the others. After the reactions on the social media over the arrestment about the disabled veteran police a decision to release was issued with a judicial control decision (with the condition of not leaving his house). But the difficulties which the disabled police had to face with did not come to an end. Soon after his wife was arrested this time. Veteran police explained his unbearable situation as follows. “We are now staying alone with two little girls at the age of 2.5 and 12.5 years old. Everything about the house, including the shopping, is in on my 12,5-year-old daughter. I cannot understand how the detentions are determined. Because I cannot use my hands my wife was doing all my physical needs.”
In her letter to Emin Çölaşan, the journalist of the newspaper Sozcu, the mother of a disabled clerk of the court , told that her son is seventy-five percent disabled with a handicapped foot, has to use a diaper, but he has not been released and he will not be able to live in prison without his mother’s care.
Police officer Kadir Eyce, who was taken to the custody in good health in October 2016, was released after he was emaciated, had paralysed legs and he could not even go to the toilet. He died shortly after his release.
Judge Mustafa Erdoğan, former member of 23rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation who had a detention warrant in the scope of terrorism accusation, had a brain surgery in a private hospital in Antalya. While he was receiving treatment in the hospital, he was taken into custody, arrested and sent to prison. In spite of continuous requests, the health reports presented during his stay in prison were not taken into consideration. After staying nine days unconscious, Judge Erdogan was released and lost his life after a few days of his release on 22 August 2017. His daughter, Buket Erdogan, had called “My father is fighting for life in a cell.” However deaf ears did not hear. Judge Erdogan whose health reports were not taken into consideration was sent to death by his colleagues who did not release him.
The court, which tried the blind journalist Cüneyt Arat, accepted him as a member of a terrorist organisation and sentenced him to 8 years, 10 months and 15 days imprisonment. Upon the approval of the imprisonment by the Court of Appeal, Arat gave himself over to the police and was jailed. The blind journalist stated that the police officers have sworn and insulted him with the following words: “Two policemen in the anti-terror branch (TEM) were very abusive and insulted me.” They yelled at me, “You are responsible for the deaths of 249 people (referring to numbers died on the attempted coup night). You’re a murderer.” 
European Court of Human Rights found out that Turkey has violated Articles 3 (prohibition of torture) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights for not allowing to benefit from the provisions that ensure release due to severe illness for Gülay Çetin who had cancer when she was under arrest and died in prison. Despite this decision of ECHR, the patients who were diagnosed with cancer and who needed immediate treatment were taken into custody and placed in prison.
86 years old man, Ali Osman Karahan, also known as “Lame Hafız” in his home town, who has heart disease, only one kidney, prostate cancer and whose eyes cannot see well, was also arrested. Despite his age and illness, he was imprisoned. The moment he was taken to the testimony by the police took place in the social media. He was climbing hardly the stairs with his cane and the police was holding his arms. Though the months passed, he was not released. Although he had medical reports showing his life-threatening, his detention on remand was extended.
Yavuz Bölek, 2nd degree police chief who had colon cancer, was arrested while the treatment was ongoing. After he was paralyzed in prison, he underwent brain surgery. After a week, he was paralyzed again. He had brain surgery for the second time. After the cancer spread to lungs he had lung surgery. He was kept in prison before his hospital treatment was completed. According to his wife, Bolek, who has wounds in his body and not taken to chemotherapy on time, is given even the simplest drugs a week later.
Ibrahim Ethem Kuriş, former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor, was among those arrested while he was a cancer patient. The former chief prosecutor who had undergone two surgeries and had chemotherapy and radio therapy because he had metastasized to the brain was arrested for allegedly attempting to destroy the state, even though he was not on duty during the coup. Despite he had a serious cancer disease and his arrest would lead to a life-threatening situation he was arrested for months. Although it was a late decision, he was released after a long period of detention. However, a ban to exit the country was imposed.
Veli Ağbaba, CHP Deputy Chairman and CHP Prison Inspection Commission Spokesman, by means of a proposal to the Parliament, wanted a commission to be established to investigate the problem of imprisoned patients in Turkey. Ağbaba, in his proposal stated that, during the last five years, the number of prisoners, whose requests have not been approved by the Institution of Forensic Medicine despite having reports due to their severe illness, is 1086, the number of prisoners who died in prison without being released has reached 451.
It was alleged that four disabled citizens who were taken into custody during the police home raids were subjected to heavy torture. Photographs of the detainees taken in the courthouse were seen in the media. Adil, Mazlum, Keser Gür and Abdi Aslan’s lawyers told that they were tortured. These disabled persons were later arrested. About six months after the arrest, three were released. Keser Gür, who had been released after a long period of time, told that they still had torture marks on their bodies, were beaten, were tortured naked, were laid in front of the toilet and were threatened with death.
The lawyer of Haydar Yıldırım, a member of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association, who was in a hunger strike while detained in Mersin, said that his client was under torture. HDP İzmir Member of Parliament Muslim Dogan brought up the detention of Yildirim which took place in Mersin on 18 January to the agenda of the Parliament and also claimed that Haydar Yildirim was not brought before the court after his statement was taken despite having been taken into custody. Haydar Yildirim, who was disabled, was released after 17 days in custody.
With the declaration of the state of emergency, there was also a 85 five year-old citizen among the detainees named Mahmut Abi, living in Yüksekova and trying to maintain his life confined to bed. When his nephew reacted to the detention of Mahmut Abi who was paralyzed and was living confined to bed for 2 years was beaten by the police.
The examples given above are just a small portion appeared on the media over violations carried out by the state towards disabled people in Turkey. Unfortunately, contrary to the international contractual obligations and the Constitution, the current regime in addition to not ensuring his positive obligations to improve the living conditions of the disabled, it seems to be the direct perpetrator of the violations of the rights towards the disabled. Numerous people with limited ability to act due to health problems are arbitrarily deprived of their liberty by being kept in prison for days and even months. Under severe conditions of prison, detention turns into a serious torture for the physically handicapped and for those who are seriously sick. Detention functions as a kind of catalyst which further deteriorates their health and conditions, and these people in a sense are sent to the jaws of death.
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