Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, has condemned the Turkish authorities reported torture and ill-treatment of some of the 50,000 political prisoners imprisoned in the country’s jails.

Crowe was speaking out after reports emerged of significant overcrowding, widespread physical abuse, systematic torture, and the denial of medical treatment in Turkey’s prisons. The information was released by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing pro-Kurdish opposition party that has Members of Parliament, Mayors and political representatives incarcerated on politically motivated and trumped up charges.

Deputy Seán Crowe TD said:

“I am deeply concerned for the health and welfare of political prisoners in Turkey, considering these worrying and graphic reports of overcrowding, ill-treatment, and torture.

“Prisoners are being beaten up, and in some cases killed, for refusing to stand during roll-calls or give a military salute, for rejecting strip searches, or because they asked to see a lawyer. Sick and terminally ill prisoners are being refused access to proper medical care and hospital treatment.

“Significantly, it is reported that not a single prison guard has been removed from his/her position for using violence against a prisoner. It is also reported that a number of prisoners have received extra punishment for demanding to file a complaint on the torture and ill treatment they are facing.

“In another disturbing development, the Turkish government has now decided to impose prison uniforms on those charged with “terrorism”. The charge of “terrorism” has become a broad and ambiguous ‘catch all’ term in Turkey where almost any dissenting voices, including politicians, Members of Parliament, Mayors, human rights advocates, trade unionists, lawyers, and journalists, have all been incarcerated.

“We know from our own history that forcing prison uniforms on political prisoners will be opposed and resisted. I am conscious that on this day in 1981 Bobby Sands was on his second day of a hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh against the British government’s attempt to criminalise Irish republican prisoners. A hunger strike that ultimately led to Bobby Sands’ death and the death of his 9 comrades.

“Political prisoners in Turkey have already expressed their strong opposition to resisting this decision and if the government implements this decision Turkey’s prisons will become an even more tense and volatile battleground.

“In view of these increased reports of ill treatment and prison deaths, I am calling for an independent international investigation into the reports of torture and the widespread ill treatment of political prisoners in Turkey.

“I am also calling on the Turkish authorities to urgently reverse their attempt to impose prison uniforms on political prisoners.”