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EU Values - Islamist Turkey building very large prisons for future mass crackdown. HT: abdullahbozkurt.
If nothing else, the prison construction frenzy in the last several years by the Islamist ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in Turkey is enough evidence by itself to suggest that the current rulers of the nation are intent on cracking down on rights and freedoms, muzzling criticism and stifling dissent by putting critics and opponents behind bars en masse.
The ambitious yet sinister program of upgrading and expanding prisons across the country was undertaken by the government on the calculations that the inmate population would increase dramatically in Turkey.
When asked, officials declined to provide details on how they arrived at these predictions other than saying the crime rate is soaring, prosecution is better, and they are clearing backlogged cases. That is not a real answer and does not explain why the crime rate is on the rise and the backlog is growing despite purported clearance.
The answer lies in the systematic campaign of imprisonment by the government, whose partisan prosecutors overwork day and night to detain anyone deemed a threat to the autocratic regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. That led to an unprecedented squeeze on the prison system on the back of the already broken and grossly abused criminal justice system.
It is not only prominent journalists, human rights defenders, leading dissidents, intellectuals or political opposition figures but even ordinary citizens, housewives, people with disabilities and high school students who are being detained by the police in large numbers just because they shared a photograph, posted a message on social media or ran a food drive to benefit a congregation in their neighborhood.
The charges are all the same, ranging from being a member of fictitious terrorist groups to espionage, from coup plotting to smearing public officials — classic symptoms of authoritarian governments. In most cases, government loyalist prosecutors simply Xerox the same charge sheets for dozens or even hundreds of people detained arbitrarily in their offices and homes.
The government’s secret plan to increase the prison population was actually discovered by a delegation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) during their visit to Turkey on June 9-21, 2013. The visit came right after the countrywide Gezi Park anti-government protests during which many were arbitrarily detained and charged.
The delegation’s report, later published on the Council of Europe (CoE) website, said “the authorities planned to bring into service 207 new prisons (with an overall capacity of some 125,000 places) by the end of 2017, thereby increasing the total capacity of the Turkish prison estate to some 245,000 places.”
It also noted the government expected the size of the prisoner population to increase to 180,000-190,000 (an incarceration rate of some 250 people per 100,000 inhabitants). The delegation questioned Turkish officials on the spike in the inmate population and how they came to the large figures for the future. The answer was the same as mentioned above. Read the full story here.