Trans Inmate on Hunger Strike: “I don’t want to die!”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Açlık Grevindeki Trans Mahpus: Ölmek istemiyorum!” (“Trans Inmate on Hunger Strike: ‘I don’t want to die!’”) kaosGL.org, 10 April 2014,http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16303

Avşa, a trans inmate on hunger strike for the last 60 days, has told of the sexual assault, violence and isolation she has been put through during her incarceration. “I have been hungry for 60 days and I don’t want to die. Because I was jailed before I had a chance to flourish.”

Avşa, one of the trans inmates in Bafra T-type Prison who went on hunger strike due to various violations of her rights, wrote a letter to Kaos GL, an LGBTI solidarity organization,  about her experiences in prison.

Avşa reports that she has been subjected to systematic sexual harassment and violence, which is why she has been on hunger strike for the last 60 days. She has recently been transferred from Bafra to Kocaeli Prison. She has lived through countless infringements to her rights during this time.

In 2009, Avşa was first subjected to sexual abuse by a correctional officer during her time in Giresun Correctional Facility. She took her experiences to court with sufficient evidence and the assaulting officer got sentenced to imprisonment by the Giresun Criminal Court. Avşa, on the other hand, was relocated to the Tokat Correctional Facility considering lack of safety.

Assaulting officer keeps following her

The assaulting correctional officer keeps pursuing Avşa, even after moving to the different facility in Tokat. First he visits Avsa in the prison and then a friend of his starts working as a correctional officer in the Tokat Correctional Facility. Avşa’s previous ordeals are revealed to everyone. After the resulting pressure, Avşa is transferred to other correctional facilities, first to Niğde, then to Gümüşhane and finally to Bafra.

Sexual assault, public beatings and exile!

In Bafra, Avşa is still exposed to sexual harassment and violence by other correctional officers. While trying to convey some of her threats and harassments to the Administration at the Bafra Prison, where she stayed for 22 months, a correctional officer grabs her hair and beats her in front of everyone. The officer, who carried out the public beating, has previously sexually harassed Avşa. Avşa states the following of the event in the Bafra Prison:

“Drop your complaint, or Else!”

“My face was unrecognizable after the beating. Instead of being rushed to the hospital, I was taken to the infirmary so that my condition could be passed off with a simple report. However, after passing out on December 23rd 2013, I was rushed to the Bafra Government Hospital, where a thorough report on my condition was prepared. During this time, some of the prison personnel and administrators visited me to say that the officer in question had mental issues, that he was only functional with anti-depressants and that I should retract my complaint or else it would not be good for me.”

“No such thing as harassing a transvestite!”

Despite CCTV recordings and hospital reports, Avşa’s complaints were dismissed as “no need to investigate”. Apparently, there is no harassment in question because Avşa is a transvestite! And “harassment is inconsistent with the nature of a transvestite’s life. It is not plausible!”

60th day on Hunger Strike, her life is in danger

After all she went through; Avşa decides to go on a hunger strike. As she wrote the letter, Avşa is on the 60th day of her strike. Her medical examination on February 16th reveals that her loss of fluids constitutes a fatal risk. She loses 20 kg in the past two months. Avşa says:

“Due to the precedent that the punishment of my assaulter set in Giresun, those responsible for similar actions are now afraid that they will share the same fate. I am afraid; this is the reason why they went to the trouble of bringing false charges against me based on untrue testimony. So, in order to make my voice heard by the highest authorities, I went on a hunger strike, of which I am on the 60th day. The report of my medical examination in Bafra Hospital on February 16th shows that my life is at risk due to dangerous loss of bodily fluids.”

“I don’t want to die; I was jailed before I could flourish”

“I would like you to know that my health is deteriorating fatally and my medical condition is quite serious. On the 2nd and 3rd of April, my family visited to the Justice Ministry to personally present evidence of my unfair treatment.

I have dropped to 62 kg from 84 kg in only two months. My attempts to explain my ordeal to the highest authorities with official petitions were in vain. I would not wish for anyone to be tamed by starvation. I have been hungry for 60 days and I don’t want to die. Since I was jailed before I had a chance to flourish.”

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