The following questionnaire, conducted by P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, is part of a survey aimed at revealing the conditions faced by journalists in prison in Turkey, either in pretrial detention or under a sentence. In addition to documenting the problems journalists might be facing during their time in prison, this survey is also aimed at helping improve their prison environment.
İsminaz Temel filled out the questionnaire during a prison visit in August 2018 by P24’s lawyers.
Name: İsminaz Temel
Etkin news agency (ETHA) editor İsminaz Temel was taken into custody on 19 October 2017 alongside more than 10 people that also included her co-worker Havva Cuştan, a reporter for ETHA. They were jailed pending trial on 26 October on charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The indictment accuses Temel of having taken part in demonstrations, funerals and memorials “on instruction from a terrorist group.” The first hearing of their trial, overseen by the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, was held on 16-17 July 2018. At the end of the two-day hearing, the court ruled for the continuation of eight of the 13 jailed defendants’ detention, including Temel, while releasing five people, including Cuştan, under judicial control measures. The second hearing of the trial is scheduled for 29 November 2018.
Prison: Bakırköy Women’s Prison
Detained since: 26 October 2017
In pretrial detention or under sentence: In pretrial detention
1. Are you detained with other inmates or are you in solitary confinement? How many people do you share the prison cell with?
I am detained in a shared cell with others. Although the number is constantly changing, currently we are 31 inmates sharing the same room.
2. How many hours a day are you allowed to go out to the courtyard or prison yard?
During summer, we are allowed to go out on the courtyard by around 7:00-7:30 a.m. until it closes at 8:30 p.m. In winter the courtyard is open from around after 7:30 a.m. until 05:00 p.m.
3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements?
At the end of the day, it’s prison food. More often than not, it is inadequate. We know that we need to eat it, but we also know that it is not up to hygiene standards and other health requirements. It’s mostly very oily. Most of the time we skip meals. We have also been facing problems with vegetarian food choices. The food is far from being satisfactory. Sometimes it is incredibly oily, sometimes we cannot even guess what we are being served. Also, we cannot get milk, yogurt and eggs as often as we need.
4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.?
We have hot water around the clock. But since there are more inmates than the prison was originally intended to accommodate, we often suffer water shortages. Also the tap water is rusty and it’s calcareous. We had problems with heating in winter. We do the cleaning ourselves, just like our laundry.
5. Do you suffer from any chronic illnesses? Do you have to take regular medication? Do you have access to a medical doctor and/or psychiatrist whenever you need? Have you had any difficulty obtaining your prescribed medicines?
I have been suffering from hearing loss in my right ear due to a middle ear infection. I have to get it checked by a doctor every six months, about which I informed [the prison management] when I was first imprisoned. Prison conditions add to the already existing trouble I have with balance-focus. I have been wanting to receive medical treatment, but since we are forced to be in handcuffs during medical exams, I opted not to go until now. There is an infirmary, but that too is sadly not easy to visit. When they [medical personnel] are available, you are admitted to the infirmary the same day, but when they are not, you will only be admitted whenever they are available, no matter what you may be suffering from.
6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?
We used to receive letters twice every week, but that has now been reduced to once a week. There have been times when we either received a letter sent via express mail from the same city as we are two months later, or when our mail got lost altogether. This has not happened to me, but I heard about other inmates undergoing investigation because of their letters or their letters being subject to censorship. Also, the letters we send are usually mailed too late.
7. Have you faced any limitations concerning books, newspapers or other publications you asked for? How many books are you allowed in your prison ward/cell?
Yes, at times we are not given opposition newspapers on grounds of a “ban.”
8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?
My lawyers make frequent visits, but my family have only been able to visit once every 3 to 4 months, because they do not live here [in Istanbul]. Visitation outside my immediate family is not allowed due to the restrictions introduced during the emergency rule.
9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit?
No, I haven’t.
10. Have you faced any problems preparing your defense statement? Do you have access to a computer, to the library, and to your case file while working on your defense statement?
I prepared my defense statement in handwriting. I was not given access to a computer. As for the case file, I could only obtain its parts related to the indictment and the part that included the statement of the facts.
11. Have you been subject to ill-treatment or any physical or verbal harassment? If so, have you filed a complaint, and if yes, what happened following your complaint?
12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?
We are required to make all our demands through petitions — about anything, from health needs to educational needs, from commissary to medications. Some of our demands have been met, but none of them have been met on time. As for those that were declined, it is difficult to name them and describe them here. There is a fact about being in prison, which is, here, something happens not when it has to, but when [the prison management] wants it to.
13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.
I would like to get the novel İnce Memed [Memed, My Hawk]. Additionally, I/we would appreciate anything in the form of articles and books about contemporary politics, art, and other topics. Anything [we can read] here is of benefit and functional. Thank you.