Disabled man issued ‘good health’ medical report, refused to be released from prison

Bilal Danış, a disabled man jailed for alleged links to the Gülen movement, received a medical report saying he was in good health and therefore was not eligible for release from prison due to his disability, Bold Medya reported.

Danış’s left arm was amputated after a traffic accident in 2011 and at the time he received a hospital report indicating that he was disabled. Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, deputy of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), criticized the situation and shared a letter from Danış on Twitter.

“I am writing this letter from an isolation cell,” Danış said in the letter. “My left arm was amputated. I do not understand that it is not a handicap. They issued a false report denying me my release.

Danış was arrested on November 20, 2016 and sentenced to nine years and three months in prison. He was accused of using the ByLock messaging app.

Turkey considers ByLock, once widely available online, a secret communication tool between supporters of the Gülen faith-based movement since an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, despite the absence of any evidence that the ByLock messages were related to the putsch aborted, leading to the arrest of thousands of people who used it.

He was also accused of depositing money in the now closed Asya bank linked to Gülen.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting supporters of the Gülen movement since corruption investigations from December 17 to 25, 2013, which involved then Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and his entourage.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gulenist coup and a plot against his government, Erdoğan called the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. Erdoğan has stepped up the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt he accused Gülen of organizing. Gülen and the movement firmly deny any involvement in the failed coup or any terrorist activity.

Turkish authorities have drawn criticism for the continued detention of disabled prisoners.

Bilal Konakçı, a former bomb disposal expert arrested on the Gülen routes, was refused release despite being severely disabled.

Konakçı was injured while trying to diffuse a bomb and lost his eyesight and his right hand. He also lost some fingers on his left hand and has difficulty walking as well as hearing loss.

Serdal Yıldırım, who became disabled following a car accident, was also refused release. Yıldırım cannot walk, but his appeal was rejected and the court declared that he posed a “threat to society”.

The decision was criticized by Yıldırım’s family and human rights activists, who said Yıldırım could eventually start walking if he received proper treatment and physical therapy.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have often criticized the authorities for not releasing sick and disabled prisoners, so that they can seek appropriate treatment. Gergerlioğlu previously said sick prisoners were only released when they were at the point of no return.

According to the most recent statistics published speak Human Rights Association (İHD), the number of sick prisoners is in the thousands, of whom more than 600 are seriously ill. Although most critically ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to stay in prison, they are not released. The authorities refuse to release them on the grounds that they represent a potential danger to society.

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