Kafkaesque bureaucracy forces convict to bid farewell to mother in morgue
A Turkish convict wishing to see his mother before she died of a terminal illness had to bid farewell to her in a morgue after his request to visit her was delayed by red tape.
Barış Uyanıker, 41, was imprisoned in 2007 for manslaughter. He lost his father in 2009, and learned last month that his mother Ayşe Uyanıker, 70, was losing her battle with lung cancer.
Uyanıker filed an official request with the prison administration in the northern province of Tokat, where he was serving his sentence, to visit his mother in line with a recently enacted regulation that allows convicts to see their family members who are in the advanced stages of a terminal illness.
The prison administration asked for a medical report showing Ayşe Uyanıker's condition and 1,200 Turkish Liras for travel expenses. Uyanıker's family supplied the money and a medical report from a private hospital in which the woman was receiving treatment.
The medical report, however, was not accepted by the prosecutor in Tokat as it was from a private institution. The report was taken to a state hospital for official approval and was resent to the prosecutor in Tokat.
Uyanıker was transferred to a prison in nearby Çorum while he was waiting for approval from the prosecutor in Tokat. Once there, Uyanıker told informed prison administrators of his request, prompting the Çorum authorities to request the official papers from the prison in Tokat.
Uyanıker's mother, however, died June 13 before the papers reached Çorum. Uyanıker then asked for permission to attend his mother's funeral in Ankara.
Prison administrators said they would finish the paperwork so that Uyanıker could attend the funeral on June 14. Uyanıker departed from Çorum at 3:30 p.m. on June 14, reaching Ankara the same day at 8 p.m. The funeral, however, could not be held as relevant authorities said burials were not conducted after 6 p.m., forcing the family to delay the funeral until June 15. The prosecutor, however, said Uyanıker's leave was only valid for one day and that he would not be permitted to attend the funeral.
Uyanıker was thus forced to enter the morgue holding the body to bid farewell to his mother and recite final prayers.
Ayşe Uyanıker was laid to rest on June 16 in a funeral without her son.