Jailed cancer patient, refused hospital treatment by Turkish authorities, dies

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Selman Aşçı

A man suffering from cancer who has been jailed in Turkey for more than a year has died due to a lack of timely hospital treatment, the TR724 online news outlet reported.

Thirty-two-year-old Selman Aşçı, who was detained because of alleged membership in the Gülen-movement-affiliated charity Kimse Yok Mu and has been kept in pretrial detention in İzmir’s Şakran Prison for over a year, has died.

According to TR724, Aşçı was a cancer patient and required treatment while in prison. It was reported that weeks before his demise, his health worsened. Despite applications for transfer to a hospital, prison authorities refused to allow him to be moved.

Ten days after the state of his health became critical he was admitted to an intensive care unit but could not be saved despite all efforts.

The Justice Ministry and the prison administration have not issued a statement about the death of Aşçı, who was married and a father of two.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in Turkish jails and detention centers where torture and ill treatment are being practiced. In most cases authorities concluded these deaths were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 98 cases of suspicious death and suicides in Turkey in a list as of Dec. 14, 2017 in a searchable database format.

Turkey survived coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the faith-based Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on Dec. 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. On Dec. 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Turkish Minute)

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