Deployment of weapons in several prisons raises fears about mass killing of prisoners

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Amid claims that the Turkish government is planning to stage riots in Turkey’s prisons to eliminate political prisoners, heavy weapons have been deployed in the Silivri, Şakran and Sincan prisons for reasons of security in a move that has raised concerns about the mass killing of prisoners.

According to a statement from the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses on Thursday, security measures have been upgraded to the highest level in 387 prisons across Turkey while aerial defense systems including anti-aircraft guns were installed in Silivri, Sincan and Şakran prisons.

Since the possibility of an aerial attack on prisons seems low, the installation  of anti-aircraft batteries in the three prisons has led to claims that they will be used to attack prisoners as the weapons can be used to demolish concrete walls.

The terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast for decades, is also using anti-aircraft guns to attack the walls of military outposts and inflict damage inside.

Earlier this month, lawyer Ömer Turanlı called on human rights organizations and the relevant commissions of the EU to immediately monitor incidents taking place in Turkey’s prisons while expressing grave concerns about the safety of his clients due to claims of a staged riot.

In a series of messages from his Twitter account, Turanlı, who represents some former police officers and police chiefs who were jailed in mid-2014 for taking part in a massive corruption investigation, wrote: “There are concrete and serious claims about a meeting being held to order opening of gates [of holding cells] in Silivri [prison] and the shooting down of those arrested. … I am calling on human rights organizations and the relevant commissions of the EU to immediately monitor incidents taking place in Turkey’s prisons.”

Turanlı had announced from his Twitter account plans by the Turkish government to commit mass killings of people jailed over alleged or real links to the faith-based Gülen movement in a staged riot in Silivri Prison.

According to the lawyer, recent news reports that portrayed the sketch of electrical circuitry as a prison break map of inmates who are imprisoned for real or alleged ties to the Gülen movement in pro-government media outlets confirm the claims about plans by the government for the mass killing of inmates.

In September a pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) Twitter troll named Ahmet Üstün (@ustunn_ahmet) called on the government to make plans for the massacre of all Gülen sympathizers who are currently behind bars.

“There should be no other inmates in the prisons where FETÖ members are jailed. Special execution teams should be deployed there. FETÖ and its jailed members should know that only the dead bodies of FETÖ members who make escape plans can be taken out of jail. The guns of prison guards should be taken away, FETÖ members including military members, police officers, prosecutors and judges should be collected in one or two prisons. PÖH [special police units] should operate with the authority to kill 24/7,“ wrote Üstün in a series of tweets.

The government, which accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt, coined the term “FETÖ” to label the movement as a terrorist organization, and the term is abundantly used by almost all media outlets in Turkey despite the lack of any court verdict proving the existence of such an organization.

Since the coup attempt, as part of a massive purge Turkey has arrested some 37,000 people over their alleged ties to the Gülen movement based on guilt by association only. Following the arrests, the pro-government media has been running stories of possible uprisings in prisons, although not a single act of resistance against detentions or arrests has taken place. Such stories raise concerns of mass killings of inmates in an effort to exterminate Gülen movement followers in prisons as final step of the massive purge.

The controversial remarks of the AKP deputy came at a time when the Turkish government is considering reintroducing the death penalty, and there are reports about plans to kill real or alleged supporters of the Gülen movement in prisons.

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