Report: Turkish government keeps more than 70,000 students in prisons
Source: Stockholm Centre for Freedom
Turkish Justice Ministry has announced that there are currently 70,000 students in prisons across the country. However, according to a report by Figen Atalay in Cumhuriyet daily, when the students who were suspended from school, froze the registration, released pending trial, already in prison, freed from long imprisonment but also at risk of being put to prison anytime, altogether included the number of students would be more than 100 thousand.
Students in jail can not access the textbooks, can not take the exams, the university winners can not register due to the state of emergency (OHAL) declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
These students, whose education rights are taken away, want to continue their education lives. Along with poet İlhan Çomak, who was arrested while in Geography Department of İstanbul University in 1994 and was in prison for 23 years, said teaching assistant İpek Özel, who is the custodian of two students in prison, travels all over Turkey, watches the hearings of university students, and strives for these young people to take advantage of a fair hearing and pending trial.
By drawing attention to the statement of the Justice Ministry’s announcement over ’69 thousand 301 students in prisons’, Özel said that “This number is wrong. There are too many students who are not in prison, released pending trial, and who can be taken in at any moment. Over 100 thousand students are being judged. When you see how the trial begins, you face a lot of unlawfulness.”
“These students are held for months in F-type prisons and then taken to the judge. In the courts, they are supposedly being questioned by the very young judges, and even technically, their right to defense is hindered. This is a very high number. Why are they so many young people in prison and why are they being judged? Are there 69 thousand terrorist young people in this country? Why this 100 thousand young people are being taken away from being good people for society. As society, we take that chance from their hands,” she said.
THERE ARE ARRESTS WİTH ANOMYMOUS NOTICE
Stating that due to reasons such as “read the press release without being a member of a terror organization, participated in ‘free education’ demonstration, danced in the picnic” these young people were kept in prisons, Özel said “As if the secret witness was not enough, now we come across with ‘anonymous notice’.”
“What is an anonymous notice? How does a person, who does not disclose his own identity, make such a severe accusations and nobody says anything? Moreover, these notices are considered to be acceptable at the highest level of courts and the students are kept in jail for months even until the first hearing,” said Özel and she added that “I have followed dozens of cases in which the trial has spread over 3-4 years, has already begun without evidence that is why can not be resolved, but is waiting for freedom in prison, can not go to school, spent 20’s age under severe conditions of F-type prisons. Maybe there was hostility so that it was reported. Is this possible with such a notice, a person who will be kept in prison for years?”
“There is a book ban due to OHAL. When the student is arrested, the university gives punishment of discipline and suspension, and dismissal when the student convicted,” said Özel and continued “They took the university exam again in prison, despite all the negativities they got good results, because of the OHAL they could not register for the university, they did not have the chance. Perhaps the innocents and the acquitted student is being taken from the university right.”
At least 22,000 inmates are forced to sleep on the floor as the prison population has exceeded 229,000 for the first time in Turkey’s history. According to the figures provided by the Justice Ministry, 229,790 people are in prisons with a total capacity of 207,339. Only 141,802 out of the 229,790 have been convicted of a crime. Another report in August stated that the total prison population had exceeded 224,000 while prison capacity is 202,000.
Turkey has a total of 384 prisons. In August, 2016, Turkey released 38,000 convicts to make room for victims of an ongoing purge launched following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, in overcrowded jails.