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Journalist speaks out on abuse in Turkish prison after launch of social media campaign against strip-searches

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Nur Ener Kılınç, a journalist who used to write for the Yeni Asya newspaper, after the launch of a social media campaign protesting the extensive use of strip-searches in Turkish penal institutions posted a video on Twitter on Wednesday saying she was harassed, abused and strip-searched in prison, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Kılınç said she was strip-searched by four guards, who just continued gossiping and laughing as if what was happening was normal. “When I asked them if they would all be present during the search, they just laughed at me,” she added.

According to Kılınç, cases of abuse of inmates need to be known by the general public. “I know for sure that many women are too embarrassed to talk about their experiences, but it’s important to raise awareness for the sake of our own dignity,” she said.

Many women who were detained and subjected to unlawful strip-searches have come forward to talk about their experiences after human rights activist and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu brought the issue to parliament and started a campaign on social media.

“Don’t stay silent against strip-search” was widely shared with the Turkish hashtag #CiplakAramayaSessizKalma by activists and women who were subjected to harassment in prisons or police custody. The social media campaign was launched to raise awareness about increasing reports of sexual violence in prisons towards inmates, detainees and also relatives of inmates.

Kılınç was arrested on March 6, 2017 for alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, a faith based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. She was in prison for nearly a year and was released pending trial. Kılınç sought asylum in Germany and was sentenced to seven years, five months in absentia.

Following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 26, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the movement. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive coup or any terrorist activity.

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