Medeni Arifoglu was one of the best-known businessmen in Turkey’s eastern province of Bingöl. He was awarded in 2012 by the then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his contributions to the city’s economy. He was also a financial consultant. Turkish authorities froze all his assets in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016 and sent him to prison. He faced violation of his rights in prison even when his appendix burst.
He was not allowed to see a doctor for three weeks. He told his wife how he banged on the door and crawled to the infirmary while shouting, “I am dying” to get help.
Arifoğlu had already had health problems when he was jailed due to liver transplantation he had undergone before prison. The violations that he suffered in prison grew more intense after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in July 2018. He was facing “exceptional cruelty” as pro-Kurdish MP and human right defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said. He shuttled back and forth between Malatya (a south-eastern province) and the prison of Adana due to the lack of patient room for inmates. One day his condition took a turn for the worse, and he refused all treatments by saying, “Leave me be, I want to die.”
Arifoğlu, a father of three, was released in March 2019 from prison after great efforts by Gergerlioğlu and his wife, but there was nothing left to do. Businessman Arifoğlu passed away on January 25, 2020. His wife Nuran Arifoğlu said in an exclusive interview with Bold news, “My husband was released but, they put him on a path leading to death. They gave us a funeral. He died in suffering”.
Arifoğlu was arrested two times and sentenced to 7 years and six months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. His case was before an appeal court.
Here is his wife’s account of events when she took care of him for 35 days under the surveillance of four soldiers, one commander, and one warden:
“He underwent transplantation of liver in 2012”
“My husband was taken into custody on July 25, 2016, and put in the prison of Bingöl three days later. They transferred him to the prison of Malatya 20 days after. Then, his life in prison got worse. They made life miserable for him in prison. They threw him into a prison cell and did not let him go to the hospital, and he returned from the edge of death many
times. He suffered from several health problems during his time in the Malatya prison. He started having health problems stemming from liver transplantation he had in 2012. He was released two and a half months later but re-arrested three and half months after his release. He suffered seizures, extreme loss of weight, exhaustion. He could barely show up for prison visits. He was always sick.”
“The doctor said he faces a risk of organ loss”
“I submitted applications to many authorities because of his health condition. I sought a lot of help. Because I knew that my husband could not survive with those health problems. He was transferred to Turgut Özal Hospital in Malatya. The doctor who performed the liver transplantation surgery said he would lose his liver if he remains in prison.
“We learned that he was hospitalized when we went to prison visit. We rushed to the hospital, but we couldn’t see him. I’ve seen some of Gergerlioglu’s pieces of writings. I wrote to him, and he returned quickly. He voiced our situation in parliament. MP from Batman province Mehmet Ali Alsan also addressed it in the parliament.”
“He was taking 19 pills in a day”
“My husband was supposed to take 19 pills a day. He had taken 17 pills initially, and then, he started taking two anti-depressants. He said his condition was heading for worse. He was taken back to prison after having stayed in intensive care for 21 days. Prison turned into a nightmare for him. He could no longer go out for a walk and barely made it to prison visits. It continued like this for long.
“They took him to a hospital in July 2018, and a five cm-tumor was spotted in his kidney. But they did not inform him about it. He kept saying he could not sleep due to intense pain. We were helpless. We had no one but Gergerlioğlu to ask for help. He did whatever he could do. When he was retaken to hospital in November 2018, they said the tumor reached a size of 8 cm.”
“Tumour became 14 cm in five days”
“We were told that they would take him to Balcalı hospital in Adana for kidney surgery. We did not want him to be taken there, but we were relieved a bit in thinking that he would get better after surgery. The doctor in Balcalı hospital said he could not operate due to the lack
of patient room special for inmates. I traveled between Malatya and Adana to see him. I found his condition to get worse in each visit. He was feeling very cold. He put on a goose-down jacket. He said he was freezing and sleeping with it. I couldn’t convince anyone that he could no longer live under these conditions. 50 days passed like this.”
“Leave me alone; I want to die”
“They took him back to prison. He was saying, ‘I want no longer to live, leave me alone, I do not want treatment. Because you are not sincere in treatment. If you care for me, then take me to the hospital.’ He could not take the risk of going again to the hospital for nothing because they did not assure him of receiving treatment. We learned that my husband was
brought back to Malatya since he refused treatments in Adana.”
Cancer blew up a bone in his neck
“We became happy when he returned to Malatya. Since Turgut Özal medical center was going to perform the surgery and it was where he had been operated before. But they made him wait for 20 days. He was taken a few times to emergency to ease his pain with painkillers but, cancer developed metastases. It blew a bone up in his neck, his arm could no longer function, and he couldn’t walk. He was in terrible condition, in other words. His appearance took a gut-wrenching turn.
He was put in hospital after great efforts. Tumors in his neck were removed; however, it was too late for his kidney. Tumors spread to main arteries, and doctors said he might not wake up if they operate on him. So, they refused the operation. His other organs were also targeted by the cancer cell. All this happened in 6-7 months. I took care of him for 35 days, along with four soldiers, one commander and one
warden I went to see the prosecutor after the operation on his neck. I asked for permission to tend him in the hospital. I said, please do not consider my request too much; let me be at his bedside. The prosecutor accepted my request. I was trying to take care of him all day long
in the presence of four soldiers, one commander, and warden.
“Although the Institute of Forensic Sciences had refused all our previous requests as saying, “There was no issue for him to stay in prison,” it granted this time a delay of execution for six months. But it was already too late. There was no use in releasing him at this point. When a tumor in his neck was removed, it spread to his brain and throughout the body.”
“He had longed for having a conversation with his kids”
“We couldn’t see any smile on his face after his release. All he wished for was talking with his kids. But he never could do it. He was praying for being able to live 2-3 years more to do something for his kids. This happened neither. He knew he was going to die. He had some wishes and desires. But it was all over. It was too late for my husband; arrangements should be put in place for other sick inmates.
“The reason I am voicing our victimhood is that there are 1334 sick prisoners, pregnant mothers, and babies behind bars, as I know. Those sick inmates could not survive prison under those conditions. I saw myself how my husband wasted away in three years. I watched how his eyes faded away, and his death came closer every week. There are so few patients surviving cancer, and this is only possible with high motivation and spirit. This is not possible in prison. It was too late for my husband, they released him too late, and justice for his death is left for the afterlife. For God’s sake, some arrangements must be made for other sick prisoners.”
Nuran Arifoğlu described his husband’s first times in prison when his appendix burst, his last days, his funeral and her kids on our first phone conversations:
“He was kept waiting for three weeks when his appendix burst. He was poisoned, but nothing happened due to the antibiotics he took. He told me later on, “Nuran; they saw me crawling on cameras. I went upstairs to the infirmary by crawling and told them I was dying”. They scolded him for banging on the door. They took him to a hospital, and my
husband was put in the intensive care unit right away. They did not let me wait at the door of the unit, things that others are allowed to do have become a crime for me.”
“Those calling him traitor came to his funeral”
“I was leaving his patient room together with the soldiers at night. His time in intensive care was the most difficult for us. One day when I was sitting next to his bed, I heard the commander saying they would discharge him from the hospital. It drove me crazy. They made the doctor discharge him. I started yelling, and I said I wasn’t going to let my husband be discharged, even you put a bullet in my head. I have pictures of him showing which condition he was in when they discharged him.
“Chemotherapies did not work afterward. We heard about a smart drug and went to Hacettepe University. However, they couldn’t use it on my husband because of his liver transplantation history. He was given another chemotherapy treatment, but he passed away before completing the procedure. We were at Elazığ University hospital for his last five days. We were just sitting at his bedside and praying.
“Those who were shouting “Death to Medeni Arifoğlu” in Democracy Watches following the coup attempt were present in his post-funeral reception. My husband was chosen as the sacrifice of this city.”
“My daughter was diagnosed with heart failure”
“My daughter developed heart failure in traveling for prison visits. His father wanted her to study law, and she is now a 21 years old law student. My son is 15 years old, and he is in high school now. My husband’s only dream was to have a conversation with his kids at the
same table. He could not pass a single night without pain.”
Turkish businessman suffers skewer attack in prison
Stabbed seven times with a skewer in Menemen Prison, Hazim Sesli is known for his proximity to Abdullah Gul and Ali Babacan, who established a new political party recently. What he said during his latest hearing was quite striking.
Mr. Hazım Sesli has been detained since October 22, 2015. The Erdogan Regime started arrests against the Gülen Movement in 2014 and turned its resentment towards the business people in 2015. While the billion-dollar companies like Koza and Boydak were targeted, the blanket factory owner Mr. Hazım Sesli was also one of the targets.
In this context, after Mr. Sesli was arrested and trustees were appointed to his factories in 2015, all of his assets were confiscated during the state of emergency in 2016. Hazım Sesli was a business person close to the politicians. He was especially known for his relations to the former President Abdullah Gül.
Record for gruesome assault
Mr. Hazım Sesli was subjected to a rather suspicious attack in Menemen Prison, where he was detained. The attacker named Fatih Oktay is a murderer prisoner who has previously flayed his wardmate’s scalp in prison.
Mr. Sesli was taken out of the cell where he was kept and taken with the guards for a weekly family phone call, and the attacker assaulted while on the phone. Fatih Oktay attacked Mr. Hazım Sesli with a piercing tool called skewer. First, the attacker targeted his heart but failed because the skewer hit the phone. Thereafter scuffle started and Mr. Hazım was injured in 7 places on his body. He was taken to the infirmary then to the hospital and subsequently brought back to his cell on the same day.
Fifteen years prison sentence
Mr. Sesli has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. At the hearing at the Uşak 2nd High Criminal Court on September 17, 2019, he said, “There is a lot I know about current ministers and former ministers. I have not spoken until now, but if I speak, some politicians will be brought to the brink of chaos.”
Mr. Hazım Sesli said the following at the hearing in the court on September 17, 2019:
“I repeat my previous statements. The reports issued by The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund of Turkey on my companies, which are administrated by the trustees now, are unilateral, unlawful, and these companies are managed unlawfully. My companies have been usurped. My companies aided many associations, companies, and foundations run by the government and the ruling AK Party. I have been in prison and a cell for 4 years. Despite all the petitions I have written, no information is given on why the prison authorities treat me antagonistically. Sesli family is discriminated against in every possible way, and it is unjust. We will call out for the mistreatment made later in the eye of law. We will bring these people to account in the same way as the coup plotters of September 12, 1980, and February 28, 1997, were brought to account. There is a lot I know about the current ministers and former ministers. I have not spoken until now, but if I speak, some politicians will be brought to the brink of chaos. I demand that this be known.”
Fatih Oktay, who attacked Mr. Hazım Sesli, said in his first statement that “Mr. Hazım Sesli is a traitor. For this reason, I wanted to kill him. I have carried out this attack because of his words insulting the nation”. However, Hazım Sesli has been in the cell and under isolation for 3.5 years. There is no possibility to speak with the attacker. It is also worth remembering here that Mr. Sesli received refusals from his petitions he gave to lifting the heavy isolation, chatting with other prisoners, and fulfilling his sports rights.
After meeting with his lawyers and relatives after the attack, Mr. Hazım Sesli stated that he considers the incident as a planned one, and it is an order that comes straight from the higher authority.
Taking this into consideration, it is necessary to focus on the attacker Fatih Oktay’s profile and the attack moment.
Earlier in Turkey, there were murders in prisons where the state’s “contribution” was somehow involved, when inspected, and the most featured one was Mustafa Duyar assassination.
Nuri Ergin, who killed Mr. Duyar in his cell, said, “This state instructed me to kill Mustafa Duyar. Learn about me more from Veli Küçük”.
It is a significant point how Fatih Oktay was able to take a piercing tool called “skewer” into a high-security-level prison. According to the allegations of the prison administration, he made the tool himself. However, there is another evident point.
The guards carry out body searches for the detainees or prisoners while they take out them from the cell for their phone-call time. It is another remarkable point that Fatih Oktay was taken out from his cell with his skewer for the phone call at the same time with Mr. Hazım Sesli and that the guards who had to be in the corridor at that moment did not intervene during the 7-times swelling of Sesli.
It was also interesting how Oda TV reported after the incident. The news, titled “They swelled the FETO imam (leader) in prison,” contained sentences to encourage similar attacks.
Another figure that was attacked in prison in the past days was Ömer Köse, former Istanbul Deputy Counter Terrorism Director. Köse was attacked by six guards in the cell where he was kept in Tekirdağ Prison. Köse, just like Sesli, was threatened before the attack, and he reported this situation to the prison administration with a petition saying, “my life safety is at stake.”
Top-scorer law student’s life devastated
One of the 80 undergraduate students detained in the raid in Ankara is the top-scorer in the Secondary School Placement Examination. His father died in prison, and his mother was a victim of the crackdown on religious people during the military tutelage in 1997.
Eighty undergraduate students were detained in a raid against the Gulen movement on February 28. After 12 days of detention, authorities arrested some while releasing others.
One of the arrested students is Muhammet Miraç Özer, who is the final year student of Ankara University, Faculty of Law. Enrolling at the university with the 900th place among 2.255.386 who took the University Placement Examination test, Muhammet Miraç Özer was also the top-scorer among 1.112.604 participants who took the Secondary School Placement Examination test.
Miraç Özer’s father was a 48-year-old doctor who passed away in prison during the state of emergency. Her mother was a victim of the crackdown during the February 28 post-modern coup. The Erdogan regime has always stated they were victims of that crackdown. February 28 is the historic moment when the women wearing the headscarf who wanted to study at the universities were persecuted, and the beginning of the mistreatment against the people who practice religion started.
Mrs. Asuman Özer, whose son was taken into custody on February 28, 2020, after 23 years of February 28, 1997, underwent a somewhat similar trauma.
No valid grounds for arrest
“My husband, Ali Özer, was arrested during the state of emergency. He died in prison two and a half months later. My son, who was recently arrested, suffered great psychological distress. He was then a second-year student at Ankara University, Department of Law. He had to drop for a year due to the trauma. He hardly recuperated. They arrested him for no tangible reason.”
Stating that two of her children continue with their education in Canada and Europe, Mrs. Asuman stressed that her eldest son Miraç stayed in Turkey to complete his studies in the Faculty of Law.
“Our house was in a remote district in Ankara. It was a 1.5 hours distance from my son’s school by car. He rented a house near the university along with a friend. Then he lived alone for a while after disagreements with his flat-mate. After a while, we had trouble meeting the costs, and he started to live with other friends of his. It was a house he had rented. It was certainly not a Gulen movement house, as claimed.”
“Miraç was in the second grade when his father passed away in prison. He literally had a psychological breakdown. I almost lost my child. He dropped out of school. A year later, he recuperated and continued to his education again. It took a long time to put our life and affairs in order again. He focused on his studies again.
He was the top-scorer in the Middle Schools Placement Examination in Turkey in his first year. He had only one incorrect answer out of 100 questions in his 2nd and 3rd years. As a very successful student, he also was the 900th student in the University Placement Examination. His success took him to the Faculty of Law. He really was a very successful boy. They ruined my son.
The Ankara Bar Association has drawn public attention to the torture of 80 students detained in the Ankara Police Department. The minutes published by the Ankara Bar read that the female students were being stripped to their underwear and beaten down, and police have forcibly removed their headscarves. Mrs. Asuman Özer was very worried about her son.
“They tortured the girls; I cannot imagine what they will do to the boys. I do not even want to imagine. They detained my son for 12 days and then arrested him with no tangible piece of evidence. If my son had any problems, he would carry on with his education abroad with us. He is a child who has no intention other than graduating from university.”
Saying that she still could not get over the pain of losing her husband, Mrs. Asuman Özer cannot keep her tears for her son’s arrest.
“They took away my husband, and now they took my son. What more do they want from us? Everyone in my family is in different countries. Miraç recovered very hard after his father’s loss. I almost lost my son right after his father’s death. He is just an ordinary person. What do they want from us? It is enough.”
Suffered during military tutelage
Mrs. Asuman Özer says that she has been the victim since February 28, 1997, and it is no different today.
Mrs. Asuman Özer stated that she had been the victim of her since February 28 and said, “I was a primary school teacher employed by the Ministry of Education. Three years into my career, the headscarf issue arose during the February 28 process. Since I was wearing a headscarf, an investigation was launched against me and I had to resign. I couldn’t do my job for 16 years. Then, when the headscarf ban was abolished, I returned to my profession. Three years later, this time, I was expelled with a Decree-Law in the state of emergency.”
Husband passed away
Working at Nallıhan State Hospital as a Chief Physician, Mrs. Asuman Özer’s late spouse Ali Özer started working as a primary care physician in Sincan, Ankara. He was detained during the state of emergency.
“On January 9, 2017, my husband was arrested. He passed away on March 22 after two and a half months in prison. He didn’t have any health issues before he was arrested. Authorities declared [the cause of death] as a heart attack, but the medical reports mention internal bleeding. We presented this report to the doctors and then filed a criminal complaint, but no effective investigation was conducted. I cannot claim anything, but my husband’s death was not investigated.”
Mrs. Asuman Özer wants her child to be released as soon as possible so that his education will not be interrupted for the second time, saying that her child is not involved in any crime.
Imprisoned police chief beaten by guards
Entering the prison cell where former police chief Ömer Köse was kept alone, five or six guards assaulted him. Details of Köse’s health condition and attack are in the news piece.
BOLD – Istanbul Police Department’s former Anti-Terror Branch manager Ömer Köse has been in prison since August 2014. Mr. Köse, who was kept alone in Tekirdağ No 2 F-Type Prison with Penalty, was reportedly attacked on March 4 by the guards in his cell.
Ömer Köse was reportedly threatened by a guard after a phone call last Monday and that Mr. Köse reported this situation in writing to the prison administration.
Ignoring Mr. Köse’s written petition, the battering took place during the count on Wednesday evening. Köse’s account of the incident is as follows:
“Since I am kept in a single cell, a guard normally comes to the counts and finishes in a few seconds. However, 5-6 guards entered the cell on Wednesday. One of the guards suddenly started hitting my abdominal area and back. When I reacted to defend myself, my arms were held by other guards, and the guard who hit me first started punching me.”
The same guard previously quarreled with Mr. Ömer Köse reportedly and made efforts to prevent him from exercising his legal rights in prison consistently.
Prison psychologist ignored
Mr. Köse reportedly pressed the panic button after being assaulted, but the prison psychologist came along with the guard who attacked him. Mr. Köse reported the threats and explained to the psychologist how he was beaten in full detail, also submitting a petition to the prison administration. However, no action was taken.
Mr. Köse is reportedly in good condition currently.
The right violations against Ömer Köse in Tekirdağ Prison have been on the public agenda before.
It was mentioned that the isolation applied to Mr. Köse is quite unbearable. While all prisoners meet with their families in the same hall, the prison authorities allowed Mr. Köse for individual non-contact and contact visits with his family members in a special room. Thus, it is ensured that he does not see anyone other than the guards who come to his cell. The right to chitchat and sports are not allowed exclusively for Mr. Ömer Köse at Tekirdağ No 2 F Type Prison.
The most crucial problem faced by Mr. Köse is that his petitions are not processed. The guards intentionally ignore criminal complaints made by Mr. Köse to the prosecutor’s office about the practices of the prison administration.
On December 17, 2013, after the graft probe targeting Tayyip Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan and four ministers, Erdogan dismissed and arrested a large number of police officers, prosecutors, and judges. Erdogan labeled the probe as a judicial coup against his administration. Mr. Ömer Köse was one of the police chiefs arrested during this period.