Bazo Yılmaz, a 67-year-old Kurdish man and the former mayor of Yukarı Göklü in Şanlıurfa’s Halfeti district, died in prison on August 18, 2022.

According to Yılmaz’s personal notes, published by the Mesopotamia news portal, he had experienced heavy mistreatment in prison before his death.

Yılmaz was reportedly taken to the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) on February 8, 2021, due to his worsening health. He was allegedly not given food during the four-day drive from Şanlıurfa to İstanbul because he “did not have any cash” on him.

“There was a lunch break on the first day. The guards opened the door and asked me if I had any money. I said no because prisoners can’t carry cash. Then one guard told me if I had no money I could not have any food,” he wrote in his personal notes.

A year after the incident, Yılmaz told family members that it had been an arduous trip for him and that he had suffered from hunger.

Yılmaz was detained along with 284 people on December 12, 2016 due to an investigation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). He was detained in a filthy sports hall for 25 days, which aggravated his multiple health problems.

Yılmaz suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2018.

Despite his multiple health problems the ATK decided Yılmaz was healthy enough to stay in prison. The details of his medical report were not shared with his lawyers or family. His lawyers appealed the ATK’s decision at the Turkish Constitutional Court; however, the appeal was unanimously rejected since the court decided he was fit to remain in prison.

 Yılmaz was taken to Şanlıurfa Mehmet Akif İnan Hospital on August 13, 2022 after his health deteriorated in prison and his lawyers requested a referral to the ATK once again. The ATK accepted their request but did not disclose when Yılmaz would be examined for “security” reasons.

Yılmaz  died five days later, and his lawyers claimed he was handcuffed on a stretcher before his death.

 Turkish authorities have denied political prisoners, even those with critical illnesses, release from prison so they can at least seek proper treatment. Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners.