Tens of protestors gathered in nine major European cities, including Frankfurt, Cologne, Paris, and London, to demand the release of sick prisoners in Turkish prisons, including Ayşe Özdoğan, an imprisoned woman with stage 4 maxillary sinus cancer.

According to Turkish journalist Sevinç Özarslan, each demonstration was attended by around 100 people, most of whom are political refugees who fled Turkey in the aftermath of a coup attempt in 2016.

At least 41 prisoners have died of cancer related complications in prisons across Turkey between July 2016 and January 2021, the Bold news portal reported.

At least 10 others still remain incarcerated over a variety of trumped-up terror charges, including alleged membership in the Gulen group and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Among these are:  Ayşe Özdoğan – Antalya prison; Ali Kaya – Rize Kalkandere Prison; Ahmet Karakuş – Manisa T Type State Prison; Abdülaziz Örpek and Ali Osman Ünal – Kırşehir Prison; Ahmet Polat – Kandıra Prison; Rıdvan Yıldız – Silivri Prison; Yasin Akaslan — Sincan Prison; E.K. – Antalya L Type State prison.

Since the beginning of the purge in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup attempt, at least half of million people have been investigated while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen group. According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, there are currently 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed over alleged terror, coup links.

The purge has resulted in a drastic increase of political prisoners in Turkish prisons, some of whom are severely ill.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), there are more than 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkish prisons, approximately 604 of whom are critically ill. Although most of the seriously ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they are not released. Authorities refuse to release them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society. In the first eight months of 2020, five critically ill prisoners passed away because they were not released in time to receive proper medical treatment.

Since April 2020, four seriously ill prisoners over the age of 70 have died in penal institutions; five inmates suffering from cancer died shortly after they were released; and 16 died of chronic illnesses while imprisoned.