Rights association calls for release of elderly, ailing woman from prison

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Turkey’s Human Rights Association has called for the release from prison of an elderly Kurdish woman who suffers from various health problems, saying her life is at further risk in prison, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Fatma Güler, 75, has been in İzmir’s Şakran Prison since Oct. 30, 2018 after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a five-year sentence handed down to her on terrorism charges.

Güler was convicted of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization because she was grazing her animals at the time of a clash in eastern Tunceli province between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. She was accused of aiding the PKK militants in the area.

A statement issued over the weekend by the İzmir branch of the İHD said Güler had already been diagnosed with stomach cancer, had two operations before her arrest and also suffers from asthma, high blood pressure and liver problems.

The İHD statement called on Turkish authorities to immediately release the elderly woman as her condition had worsened due to insufficient nutrition and unsanitary conditions in prison.

The rights group also said Güler’s petitions for the postponement for her sentence due to old age and illness have been rejected many times by the prosecutors.

There are many sick and elderly inmates in Turkey’s prisons, most of whom have been arrested as part of a massive crackdown launched by the Turkish government against non-loyalist citizens in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016. Most of these people, who do not have access to timely medical care, develop more serious health problems, while some of them have died in prison despite calls for their release.

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