29/10/2021 | Writer: Selma Koçak

Former inmates Cihan Erdal and Can Memiş tell the violation of rights in prisons and the impact of pandemic process on prisons:

“Being at prison as an open LGBTI+ person is startling” Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

Representative of LGBTI+ in Prison Thematic Area Meriç Doğan and Representative of Student in Prison Thematic Area Özge Akyüz talked to Cihan Erdal and Can Memiş about their prison experiences, violation of rights in prison and on right to access education in prisons for the students.

The first two parts of the interview, which will be completed in four parts, have been published.

“Being an LGBTI+ in prison creates an overmuch and perpetual nervousness”

At the first part Cihan and Can shared their experiences and opinions about violation of rights in prisons.

Have you ever been exposed to any sort of discrimination, or faced any discrimination directly from the administration or guardians at the period you were in prison?

Cihan Erdal: I am also an LGBTI+ activist and we are always living in fear and sentiment of being exposed to discrimination in every aspect of our lives. However, this sense increases in prison. Being an LGBTI+ in prison crates an overmuch and perpetual nervousness. You always have to keep the discriminations you may be exposed to from the guardians and administration in mind. I am aware that my beloved ones, supporters are also full of apprehension.

You have experienced prison during both the state of emergency and pandemic, is it possible to refer any difference between these two periods?

Can Memiş:, Right now we face similar limitations undercover of pandemic just like the restrictions placed on the grounds of statutory decrees at the state of emergency period.  For example, we are rooming with Cihan in f-type prison but we are not allowed to be taken photographs together. They find being together in a photo frame inconvenient but we stay in the same room. I think they are abusing the pandemic just like the state of emergency. At the state of emergency period immediate relatives, I mean spouse and children, and grandparents were allowed to visit us. Friends were not allowed to visit. They would not let me to see my friends and my beloved ones. I had to get married to find a way around it. Friends are allowed to visit but the visiting days start after months, some of my friends were never able to visit me. Although visiting was allowed we were not able to see each other due to pandemic. Visiting days are held on bi-weekly but they were all non-contact visitations, right of free visitation was precluded even on feast days

“Drinking water should be provided free”

Can and Cihan have shared their experiences about access to healthcare in prison in the second part:  

Which issues were the most problematic areas for you during pandemic process? For example were you able to access the equipment you need from the canteen? What kind of difficulties did you come across accessing to healthcare? Were you able to go to the hospital or infirmary?

Can Memiş: We were not able to find many of the food items at times. I think drinking water should be provided free to the prisoners by the administration or Ministry of Justice. When we consider the prisoners who are here for a long while, it is really something vital and it must be provided, regardless of economic conditions, it is a necessity in a social state.  Drinking water, cleaning materials and phonecard should also be given unconditional just like three meals a day. Because you are not able to exercise your right to communicate without a phone card. It is really something inhibitory and restrictive. I should hope not.

Cihan Erdal: We had a great deal of difficulties about meals. It is impossible to say that the meal per person was enough at the cafeteria. Unless you have money for buying extra food from the canteen you cannot eat your fill. Especially stews were prepared with a disgusting and smelly oil, which should be forbidden to use whether in prison or outside. We tried to fix something else for a meal with our own means by purchasing requirements from the canteen, however it was a big deal in itself for us. Everyone needs support from outside to carry on healthy life in prison.

Tags: human rights