Prisoners start fires at three separate Turkish prisons
Prisoners ignited fires at prisons in Adana, Osmaniye and Gaziantep yesterday following a riot the same day at a Şanlıurfa prison in which 13 inmates died June 16 in a protest at poor jail conditions.
Political prisoners in Gaziantep prison started a fire in solidarity with the riot in Şanlıurfa yesterday, just as juvenile prisoners in Adana's Ceyhan prison torched blankets and mattresses at around 7 p.m.
Prisoners at the Adana prison said they started the fire due to water shortages at the facility; whistles from prisoners could be heard from outside as firefighters struggled to put out the flames.
A fire broke out at Osmaniye prison at around 9:30 p.m., which was quickly extinguished.
A total of 41 prisoners, including 12 children, were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation.
Only 200 out of 1,000 convicted
The Şanlıurfa Prison fire has sparked a fresh debate on overcrowding and poor conditions in prisons and the increasing number of lengthy pre-trial detentions.
The number of prisoners has increased to 132,000 from 69,000 over the last 10 years even though Turkey’s penitentiaries only had a total capacity of 125,000 people as of April 2012, according to information provided by Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin.
Over 36,400 prisoners are detainees awaiting trial while over 95,600 have been convicted. The legal process of one-fourth of the convicted has not been concluded as their appeals are being heard at the Supreme Court of Appeals, according to statistics.
At the Şanlıurfa prison, only 200 of the 1,000 inmates have been convicted.
Many inmates and their lawyers have sent petitions to human rights organizations complaining about overcrowding in prisons.