Nesrin Gençosman, a 30-year-old Turkish woman who was put in pre-trial detention in early May 2018 over alleged links to Gülen movement, died in a prison in Ordu province on Wednesday, reportedly from pneumonia.
According to a report by online news outlet Kronos, Gençosman was taken from the prison to Ordu City Hospital several days ago where she lapsed into a coma and died.
At least 31 people, among whom are police officers, prosecutors and teachers, had been found dead as of July 2017 in Turkish prisons since a failed coup attempt in 2016, causing serious concern about the fate of thousands of civilians who have been kept in jail in poor conditions across the country.
The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in jails and detention centers, where torture and ill-treatment are being practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.
Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 117 cases of suspicious deaths and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. [Turkish Minute with Stockholm Center for Freedom]
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.