14 female inmates in Ankara prison not released despite completion of sentences

Fourteen female inmates at Sincan Women’s Prison in Ankara are not being released despite having served their sentences due to decisions on the part of the prison authorities, who cite their alleged lack of remorse as the reason, JinNews reported over the weekend.

JinNews said, citing data from the Human Rights Association (İHD), that the prisons’ Administrative and Observation Boards (İGK) have extended the sentences of 271 prisoners by three or six months, acting as if they are courts.

The 14 female inmates who were not released are Mukaddes Kubilay, Zeynep Bingöl, Rozerin Kurt, Özlem Demir, Sedef Demir, Sermin Demirbağ, Sabite Ekinci, Jiyan Ateş, Rojda Erez, Hanım Yıldırım, Necla Yıldız, Dilan Oynaş, Berin Sarı and Medine Yaklav.

Former Ağrı co-mayor Kubilay from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), who was arrested on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” was not released despite the fact that she completed her sentence on Aug. 4, 2022.

The board claimed that Mukaddes failed to meet the conditions of good conduct, which would reduce her sentence, due to an alleged lack of remorse. Her sentence was extended for a second time in October.

The sentence of Ekinci, former co-mayor of the Varto district of Muş who was arrested on Nov. 9, 2016, was extended by three months on June 28, 2022, due to lack of good conduct. Ekinci was informed on Sept. 28 that her release was postponed until Dec. 19, 2022.

Her sentence was extended for a third time because the prison board claimed after asking her a few questions that her motivation to refrain from crime after release was low. The questions she was asked included “Why did you quit teaching and become a mayor?” and “Is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a terrorist organization?”

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

Oynaş, who was arrested in 2016 while working in Mardin as a correspondent for the now-closed Azadiya Welat newspaper, was released after three months behind bars. She was arrested again a month later and sent to Sincan Prison, where she is serving an almost eight year sentence on conviction of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The sentence of Oynaş, who was not released on April 26, was extended by six months by the prison board.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has dissolved several opposition parties with alleged links to the PKK, including the BDP. The government’s crackdown on Kurdish parties and politicians in Turkey reached new heights following a coup attempt in the country in July 2016.

Dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors were removed from office, while a large number of Kurdish politicians, including the former co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were jailed following the coup attempt.

Erdoğan has been trying to close down the HDP since March 2021 over its alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdish militants.

The AKP government has also shut down a number of Kurdish language institutes, dailies, websites and TV channels as part of a crackdown targeting the Kurdish political movement.

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