Avşa’s Letter: Transsexuals and Turkish Prisons

Zafer Kıraç and Mustafa Eren, “Avşa’nın Mektubu, Translar ve Türkiye Hapishaneleri” (“Avşa’s Letter: Transsexuals and Turkish Prisons”) LGBT Hapiste, 4 May 2014, http://lgbthapiste.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/avsanin-mektubu-translar-ve-turkiye-hapishaneleri/

“Homosexuals are denied work in prison workshops; they are denied visits to the clinic; as well opportunities to exercise, go to the library, seek religious instruction, access theater, concerts or classes.Homosexuals are denied the right to breathe…”

“It is free to assault, pressure, physically or psychologically pressure, sexually assault, harass, threaten or insult homosexuals.” (Avşa)

Avşa, the trans inmate, has been exposed to abuses, ill treatments, harassments and rapes in prisons for years. She was brave to report these violations of rights to authorities by criminal complaints many times, but this only increased threats and attacks against her. Avşa wrote a letter to our organization (Civil Society in the Penal System Foundation – CISST) about what she has been through.

Avşa states that she has been incarcerated since 2006. She talks about the time in the Çorum L-type Closed Prison, where she went through harassment as well as oppression and psychological pressure. At first she filed a complaint about these wrongful acts but had to retract it after she was “threatened and harassed” by the prison administration. This was followed by the addition of another 4.5 years to her sentence due to “insulting an officer.”

She was then transferred to the Giresun E-type Closed Prison. As attacks against her continued, she was also subjected to “aggravated sexual assault” by a correctional officer. In other words, she was raped. She also brought this incident to trial and the Giresun Criminal Court sentenced the correctional officer, who had sexually assaulted Avşa, to 10 years and 6 months of imprisonment.

Avşa’s prison life became even more unbearable after her rapist correctional officer got  imprisoned by the court. She concludes:

“After this ugly and unpleasant incident became known in other prisons across the Black Sea Region, other officers started to harass and threaten me, I officially petitioned our Ministry of Justice. Due to security concerns I was relocated to prisons in other cities; first in Tokat, then Niğde, Gümüşhane and Bafra.”


Trans Prisoner on Hunger Strike: “I realized I was not alone, Thank You!”

Kaos GL, “Açlık Grevindeki Trans Mahpus: Yalnız Olmadığımın Farkına Vardım, Teşekkürler!“ (“Trans Prisoner on Hunger Strike: “I realized I was not alone, Thank You!””) Kaosgl.com, 24 April 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=16407

Avşa, the trans convict who went on hunger strike after repeated violations of her rights, ended her strike on April 13th when she was promised that her demands would be heard. Attorney Banu Güveren, who met her on Monday, April 21st, said she was currently under medical treatment.

Avşa, whose hunger strike we were made aware of by her letter to us on April 10th, told Attorney Banu Güveren that she had not imagined her voice being heard as swiftly as it did.

“I Realized I was not Alone”

Avşa said that she was very moved by all the help and had realized that she was not alone. She expressed her gratitude to everyone who had helped in getting her voice heard. She also thanked the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) MP Halil Aksoy, who had submitted an official query to the Ministry of Justice on Avşa’s situation.

Avşa and other inmates had started their hunger strike after repeatedly being subjected to insults, threats, sexual harassment, rape and violence as well as other violations of their rights, such as refusing the inmates requests to be taken to the infirmary or hospital and refusing to submit inmates’ petitions.

After some of these events various LGBTI inmates, including Avşa, attempted suicide.

Avşa, who had recently been transferred to Kocaeli 2 T-type Prison, ended her hunger strike only after the prosecutor in charge of Kandıra Prison offered to listen to her demands and help her. Avşa is currently in Kocaeli Prison, staying in a ward reserved for LGBTI inmates and says she has not encountered any problems since her arrival.