Prisoners in the Şanlıurfa jail, where 13 people were killed during a fire that started after an uprising on June 16, are being transferred to other cities. Meanwhile four other protests have occurred in prisons across southeastern provinces.
Some 42 people were transferred to the western province of Izmir and 84 others to the neighboring Elazığ, Diyarbakır and Adıyaman provinces yesterday.
“Inmates whose wards were damaged in the fire have been transferred to other prisons. Some 42 prisoners, including 14 children, have been sent to İzmir and 85 prisoners have also been sent to neighboring cities,” Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said.
The relatives of the inmates have been informed about the prisoners’ states of health and phone calls have been arranged for them, he added.
When he was asked how he felt about the incidents, Ergin said he was seeing the prison problems in his dreams when he sleeps at night. “Whenever I go to bed, 126,000 prisoners’ problems come to my mind,” he said.
Ergin also denied the claims that air conditioners had been taken into the prison after the fire and said the reason for the fire was not a lack of ventilators.
“We will evaluate the causes of the incident after investigations,” he said.
Meanwhile, political prisoners in Gaziantep prison also started a fire on June 18 following the initial the riot in Şanlıurfa, and juvenile prisoners in southern Osmaniye and Adana’s Ceyhan prison also torched blankets and mattresses. Another prison fire has broken out in a prison in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman. Nearly 250 inmates are currently serving time in the Karaman penitentiary.
Firefighters and ambulances rushed to the scene, according to reports.
The number of prisoners has increased to 132,000 from 69,000 over the last 10 years, even though Turkey’s jails only had a total capacity of 125,000 people as of April 2012, according to information provided by the justice ministry.
Meanwhile a recent report submitted to Parliament’s Human Rights Commission shows that the ministry is preparing to expand the capacity of Turkish prisons.
Some 22 new prisons will be opened this year, which will increase total capacity to 134,000 prisoners, according to a report presented by the Justice Minister’s deputy secretary, Sefa Mermerci.
The capacity is planned to be gradually increased to 145,000 in 2013, 172,000 in 2014, 185,000 in 2015, 192,000 in 2016 and 215,000 in 2017.
Currently, there are 377 prisons in Turkey, 328 of which are closed prisons.
According to statistics recorded in April, there are 132,369 prisoners, although only 77,587 of them have been convicted.