Alleged sexual abuse of Kurdish children in Turkish prison
Since 2006, thousands of children in Turkey, some as young as 12, have been prosecuted under the anti-terrorism legislation, solely for their alleged participation in demonstrations focused on issues of concern to members of the Kurdish community, Amnesty International reported.
Last year, Dicle News Agency covered the torture, rape and sexual harassment that Kurdish children were exposed to in their prison term in the prison of Pozantı, a town based in Adana, Southern Turkey.
Columnist Yıldırım Türker wrote about the human rights violations that Kurdish children have been subjected to in prisons as follows:
The women, children and men of the region were subjected to inhuman acts of brutality which we tend to forget immediately after reading or hearing them as if they were translated from quotes from hell. They are still being subjected to the same.
There are thousands of Pozantis in Turkey. Thousands of centers work day and night to make ten thousands of Kurdish kids feel sorry that they even exist.
The GUE/NGL group at the European Parliament also released a report investigating allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse suffered by child prisoners in Pozanti M-Type Juvenile Prison:
What has taken place at Pozanti prison outside of Adana, Turkey, reveals just how badly children are being abused and mistreated under the laws. According to the report by members of the European Parliament, children in the prison were deprived of food and medical treatment, beaten while naked with iron bars by prison staff, and sexually abused by adult prisoners. As H.D. a 15-year-old, reported:
“Some of our friends were molested many times. They beat us and forced us to undress. What we have been through cannot be put into words.”
At prison, the most pressing problem for them was sexual abuse, A.K. stated. However, he recalled further problems he experienced in prison, “The convicts forced our friends to get up in the middle of the night. They broke their heads right in front of our eyes. But the prison administration always tried to cover up the issue.”
Some of the highlights in the report were as follows:
Children told that they were during their imprisonment insulted by the prison administrator, the head guardian and other guardians who also dispossessed children of their money, prevented their eating, beat them naked in nooks and expose them to verbal sexual abuse.
One of the interviewed children told that a child from the next ward was called to the bed and raped by an ordinary prisoner. According to one other application by children, the prison administrator beat the children with iron bars and hard objects. The children as well as being subject to violence and sexual abuse, are also made to do all cleaning works in wards including washing the clothes of other prisoners.
While delivering Anti-Terror Law (TMK) victim children to wards, guardians say to these wards staff: “We have brought PKK members. These children are turned over to you.”
Despite a public outcry at the violations of the children’s rights, wide coverage in media as well as campaigns and reports of human rights organizations, the abuses of Kurdish children in Turkish prisons still continue today.
The new allegations covered by Dicle News Agency are based on the remarks of a former prisoner who was released from Antalya Prison last month.
Refusing to give his name, the former prisoner stated that M.L.B. and S.Ö., who were transferred from Pozantı Prison to Antalya Prison, were raped dozens of times both in the juvenile ward where they had stayed first and in the adult ward where they were put after they turned 18.
S.Ö. who came from the Kurdish province of Mardin, was raped for 3 months by a ward representative named Z.Y. who was about 40-45 years old, according to the allegation.
The former prisoner said that S.Ö. told him what had been done to him and that he was undergoing a psychological treatment:
S.Ö. had just come from the juvenile ward when I met him. I have been out of the prison for 3 months. S.Ö. stayed in the medical room of the prison for about 3 months before I was released. No ward wanted to have S.Ö.
The former prisoner also gave information about “ward representatives”:
Normally, ward representatives are elected by prisoners but in Antalya Prison, the prison authorities decided who the ward representative would be. The authorities chose the most dangerous psychopaths with the longest term of sentence to be the representative.
One of those representatives, the initials of whose name is Z.Y., terrorized the prisoners to the full extent, the former prisoner alleged:
Z.Y. was always near S.Ö. He beat S.Ö. every day. We had a fight with Z.Y. one day. The warders took Z.Y. from the ward. S.Ö. stayed with us. He told us what had been done to him. “I am able to speak as Z.Y. is away. I am suffering so much. My psychological health has been destroyed due to the things I have been going through. Help me. Z.Y. rapes me every day,” he told us.
The prisoners were shocked and said “how come he rapes you every day and we are not aware of it?” S.Ö. replied that Z.Y. gave him sleeping pills and took him to the toilet to rape him.
The former prisoner explained the reason why they had not realized that S.Ö. had been raped:
There is room system in the prison and 3 people stay in each room. If you do something to your roommate, the prisoners in the next ward will not know about it. And the ward representatives just do whatever they want to the ones who look the most defenseless.
It was completely forbidden to turn on the lights of the corridor and the toilets after 23.00. That is why we did not realize that he was raped. It was forbidden to enter the common field after that hour. There was a sign that read “Do not open the door” on the doors of the toilet and the corridor, but actually the door of the toilet should be open all the time. It was also the same during the day. Z.Y. took S.Ö. to the toilet to rape him.
The former prisoner said that they submitted a petition to the prison authorities after they learnt about the rape:
The warders beat S.Ö. terribly after he told us about the rape. They said that S.Ö. came from Pozantı Prison and he was raped there. The warders told the prisoners “S.Ö. is slandering and lying; do not believe what he says.”
The former prisoner pointed out that S.Ö. was transferred to Eskişehir Prison after it was revealed that he had been raped in the prison to cover up the matter. All prisoners in the E-12 ward of Antalya L Type Prison would confirm S.Ö had been raped, he emphasized.
The only victim of rape was not S.Ö., the former prisoner said. The 18-year-old M.L.B. who was also born in the Kurdish province of Mardin also talked to him about what had happened to him:
He had stayed in the juvenile ward before but when he turned 18, he was placed in the adult ward. “İ.Ç. attempted to rape me”, he said to me. İ.Ç. had been in the juvenile ward before as well and juvenile prisoners were very scared of him.
İ.Ç. made the children wash him in the bathroom for hours and clean his clothes. I got suspicious. I confronted him since he forced the children to wash him and his clothes. We had a fight there. I told the warders to take me from there. I received a punishment of solitary confinement for 15 days and was then put in the E-12 ward.
Then, İ.Ç. heard about what the children had said and he threatened them. After he was threatened, M.L.B. denied his previous remarks. But if an investigation was conducted about İ.Ç, it would be revealed that he raped more than 10 children.
When Dicle News Agency called the prison to get information regarding the allegations, the warder who answered the phone said that there were no officials in the prison so they could not speak about the matter and added:
If you really want to get information so much, call the judge on duty and s/he will give instructions and then, the prison authorities will speak.