Kurdish American Human Rights Campaign Media Statement
For Immediate Release
Date: March 1, 2012
The Kurdish American Human Rights Campaign expresses its grave concern regarding reports that minors being held for political offenses at Pozantı M Type Prison in Adana, southern Turkey have been subjected to sexual and other forms abuse by adults in the prison.
The allegations emerged in a recent press report by journalist Zeynip Kuriş, who interviewed children who had been held at Pozantı. According to their testimonies, juveniles incarcerated for political reasons, such as participating in demonstrations where they allegedly threw stones, are held alongside adult prisoners who are under arrest for non-political crimes like drug use, murder, and theft.
“Some of our friends were raped by the ordinary prisoners dozens of times. They sometimes tried to force our trousers down. Our experiences cannot be described,” one former juvenile prisoner told Kuriş. Another explained that “I experienced very bad things [in the prison]. The prisoners put a rope around my neck and squeezed it. They were beating us. They called me a terrorist and forced my face towards the flag to kiss it. They beat me again when I refused to do so.” Still another juvenile prisoner testified that “The convicts forced our friends to get up in the middle of the night. They broke their heads right in front of our eyes.”
This is not the first time Pozantı has made headlines. In January 2010, parents of juvenile political prisoners held at the facility reported that their children had complained of abuse, including being sprayed with cold water, beaten with plastic pipes, and having salt poured in wounds resulting from the beatings.
Reports of maltreatment and torture of juvenile political prisoners in Turkey are not new, and nor are adult prisoners the lone perpetrators; state officials have also been accused of abusing imprisoned children. Thousands of minors, most of them Kurdish and some as young as 12, have been prosecuted as terrorists for participating in political demonstrations in recent years. A landmark 2010 Amnesty International report documents “systematic violations of the rights of the children committed during their arrest, detention and trial,” noting that “[d]espite widespread accounts of excessive use of force and other ill-treatment, no police officer has been brought to justice.”
KAHRC calls for an immediate, thorough investigation into the allegations of abuse at Pozantı and punishment of those responsible. The Turkish government should immediately release all political prisoners and work in good faith for a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Kurdish issue based on democracy and human rights for all.