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 Turkey: Abuse claims pile up in Pozanti Prison - Sexual abuse of Kurdish children in Turkish prison

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Turkey: Abuse claims pile up in Pozanti Prison - Sexual abuse of Kurdish children in Turkish prison  3.3.2012  

DIHA Photo
March 3, 2012

MERSIN, — Reports are coming through regarding Kurdish children who were arrested in connection with political actions and placed in ordinary criminals' ward in Pozantı Prison. The kids are claiming that they have been sexually abused and beaten by ordinary criminals.

“Upon arrival, we were forced to pass naked through x-ray machines many times. The soldiers hit our fingers while taking our fingerprints. Then they took us to a dark room where we were forced to undress. They poured cold water on us and hit us with hosepipes,” tells V.Y. (17) who spent four and a half months in the Pozantı Prison when he was 13 years old.

As sexual and physical abuse claims in the Pozantı Prison struck the agenda similar stories pile up one after another. V.Y. tells they stayed 25 of them in a ward of 14 and had to call the wardens ‘Sir.’ Sick prisoners were not treated and political prisoners’ right to social activity and visits were diminished. Those who resisted the wardens were taken out of the ward and they returned with their pants taken off.

V.Y. who was subjected to torture not only in the Pozantı Prison but also in the police station and the Tarsus C Type Closed Prison has applied to the Human Rights Association (İHD) Adana Branch for legal aid.

On the other hand, families are not happy with the government’s solution to the problems in the Pozantı Prison by transferring the prisoners to the Sincan Prison. “Instead of transferring them to far-away prisons where we will not be able to visit them, they should improve the conditions of the Pozantı Prison,” says Abdullah A. whose son C.A. (17) has been jailed for six months.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Mersin MP Ertuğrul Kürkçü had a meeting yesterday with the Pozantı Prison administration who denies the claims. In spite of the fact that he was unable to get information, Kürkçü said the claims are real and should be investigated.

At the same time, Mersin Association of Help and Solidarity with Immigrants (Göç-Der) President Selahattin Güvenç commented that it was the government’s policy since the establishment of the Turkish Republic to retain and abuse Kurdish children, referring to the sexual abuse of forcibly adopted girls after the Dersim massacre in 1938.

“This is a government’s policy. The government takes away the children and subject them to harassment and sexual abuse. It took place 74 years ago in soldiers’ homes where girls were forced to go, it is taking place today in prisons,” said Güvenç.

A commission from the People’s Republican Party (CHP) went to Mersin on Tuesday to investigate the child sexual and physical abuse claims in the Pozantı Prison. The commission visited İŞTAR Women’s Counselling Centre and Human Rights Association Mersin Branch. “The released children live in a state of paranoia. They are very anxious, they believe they are being followed and tapped,” said Didem Gelegen from İŞTAR noting that sexual and physical abuse has to be prevented in prisons and child arrests must be made more difficult legally.

The Association of Socialist Youth (SGD) demanded the Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin’s resignation in Diyarbakır on Friday in a demonstration to protest the child sexual abuse in the Pozantı Prison. "The oppressive mentality of December 19 which turned the prisons into bloodshed has been replaced with a similar mentality turning the prisons into torture centres for children. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for all inhuman treatment, sexual abuse and torture,” said Jülide Ateş on behalf of the SGD.  The SGD members will send postcards to child prisoners in the Pozantı Prison.

In Ankara, Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) and human rights associations say that the transfer of abused children from the Pozantı Prison to the Ankara Juvenile Closed Prison is not a solution because of several factors, one of them being the great number of denouncements against the latter. Human Rights Association (İHD) Secretary Emrah Şeyhanlıoğlu noted that the transfer was not in favor of the children whom the families will not be able to visit in Ankara due to long distances. Şeyhanlıoğlu criticized the few number of juvenile prisons in Turkey saying, “There are only three juvenile prisons whereas more than 2,000 children are jailed in Turkey. This means children are incarcerated together with adults.”  ÇHD Ankara Branch President Murat Yılmaz also underlined that changing places was not a solution. “The real solution is to transfer these children to reformatories. Hospitals must be opened where psychologists will ensure the protection from any kind of abuse. The state is responsible for the [sexual abuse] incidents. Because the state ignores them these incidents increase,” said Yılmaz.

Meanwhile eight child prisoners jailed under the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) in the Mardin E Type Closed Prison declared on Saturday that they have gone on a three-day hunger strike in order to protest the sexual abuse incidents in the Pozantı Prison and the isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan.

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