Parliament set up a committee to investigate the prevalent torture in a notorious prison in southeastern Turkey after the 1980 coup. The committee, headed by a lawmaker who spent time in the Diyarbakır prison in the '80s, will look into the allegations of torture and maltreatment of inmates who were primarily political prisoners and jailed after the army came to power in a September coup.
Prison guards and civil servants who worked at the prison at the time of the torture and abuse will testify before the committee, along with surviving torture victims and the relatives of victims. Orhan Miroğlu, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) who is heading the committee, had presented a proposal to establish the sub-committee as part of a wider human rights committee. Miroğlu was jailed for seven years after the army rounded up a large number of people in Diyarbakır, a province with a predominantly Kurdish population, to suppress activism by Kurds seeking their rights. Miroğlu, a writer, columnist and politician, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for being a member of a movement of activists after the coup. In his proposal, Miroğlu said investigating the incidents at the Diyarbakır prison in the 1980s was a prerequisite for Turkey to confront its past.
The prison, formally known as Prison Number Five, was synonymous with brutal torture, according to the accounts of survivors. In two years during the '80s, a large number of inmates died in the prison due to torture, infectious diseases and suicide. Though no official numbers are available, it is estimated that more than 30 people died in that period. The families of victims claim the deaths were not properly investigated or were covered up. The committee will now hear how the victims suffered from systemic torture in the prison by the military administration. It will also seek access to military archives regarding the prison.
The prison was transferred to the military administration after the coup, which saw a ban of all political parties, unions and other movements, while activists and members of political parties were imprisoned. Survivors released from prison years after the coup regime ended had detailed the torture conducted at the prison, ranging from being forced to eating feces to systematic beatings and water and food deprivation, in their personal accounts.
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