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Prisoners battered to blindness in ‘sponged rooms’ in Turkey

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Three inmates in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison — Umut Gündüz Altın, Murat Yüksel and Musa Kurt — have been battered by more than 30 guards in “sponged rooms,” which led Yüksel and Kurt to lose their sight, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday.

According to the report the three inmates, who were imprisoned on charges of membership in the Far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), were battered by guards who claimed the prisoners turned off the camera on the air conditioning and took away the dustbin.

The father of Altın, Cengiz Altın, who was visiting his son in prison said: “My son has pain in his ribs. His body is full of bruises. My son said special teams were brought to Silivri Prison for the purpose of torture. They are constantly being battered.”

Altın’s father said Yüksel and Kurt, who were beaten naked in “sponged rooms,” lost their sight. Altın, Yüksel and Kurt visited the prison doctor for treatment, who claimed they had beaten themselves.

To the question of whether he had met with the prison administration, Altın said: “What am I going to say… I know there is no justice in this country. The lawyer will go today. We want our voice to be heard. The situation in prisons is terrible.”

Sponged rooms are known in the media as rooms in prisons where torture is perpetrated by guards. They are monitored 24 hours and have toilets, which are not enclosed.

A Bianet report said the Turkish Ministry of Justice defined sponged rooms as “places where the ceiling, floor and walls are covered with sponge and preserved with canvas. Convicts and prisoners here can be monitored and controlled with a closed circuit camera system. The videos taken here are recorded. Clean and dirty water systems, and air conditioning were set for convicts and prisoners to meet their needs. … According to the law, convicts and prisoners can be transferred temporarily to these rooms for precaution and for preventing them from hurting themselves and others until they calm down.”

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