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Women are being tortured in Turkey's prisons, opposition MP warns

TURKEY’S opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Guven warned on Saturday that women being held as political prisoners — many on trumped-up terror charges — have been tortured.

Ms Guven, who was herself jailed for opposing Turkey’s illegal war and occupation of Afrin in northern Syria last year, alerted the Morning Star to brutal attacks in the all-female Bakirkoy Prison.

The HDP MP for Hakkari, in Turkey’s largely Kurdish south-east, started a hunger strike last year in protest against the continued isolation of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan that spread across Turkish prisons.

She told the Star: “Female political prisoners were attacked by security forces in the international week of the protests against gender violence. Their lawyers say female prisoners were tortured brutally.”

Similar to the case of Ms Guven, the Turkish state has clamped down on those resisting and opposing the country’s latest war on northern Syria.

Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a deadly assault in the operation, allied with a myriad of jihadist terror groups accused of carrying out war crimes, including extra-judicial executions and the use of chemical weapons.

One of those allegedly tortured in Bakirkoy Prison, Esin Kavruk — detained after declaring “No War” on social media — was attacked after refusing to give a blood and saliva sample and submit to an internal examination.

At least 100 police officers and soldiers raided the cell and subjected 16 women to brutal beatings and torture. According to reports, Dilek Gecgin was kicked in the genital area while fellow prisoner Zeynep Gercek suffered terrible injuries to her back.

Esin Kavruk was also kicked in the back, after which the women were placed in solitary confinement.

The HDP women’s platform condemned the brutality as an attempt to “break the will of women” with attacks on those outside and inside prison.

The Turkish state has moved against the HDP co-chair system, which ensures equality of the sexes throughout the party. Mr Erdogan has branded it an act of terrorism, in a bid to stop women from participating in political life.

The HDP itself has faced a severe clampdown, with recent reports showing that about 16,500 of its members, including MPs and elected officials, have been detained by authorities since November 2016.

“Torture and assault against women prisoners is a continuation of the state’s policy of breaking women’s will. We women … condemn the torture of Esin Kavruk and all other women prisoners,” a statement said.

“Even if you confine us between four walls, you will not break our will. We will not back down from organising our rebellion against torture!”

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