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Visually Impaired Turkish Journalist’s Letter Shows He Can Barely Survive In Prison

A letter sent by visually impaired Turkish journalist Cüneyt Arat, who was sent to prison last July due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, shows that he is having a hard time surviving in prison because penal facilities are not set up for a disabled person.

Cuneyt Arat has posed in prison.

In the letter he sent from a prison in Tarsus, southern Turkey, where he has been incarcerated since August, Arat said toilet facilities have not been made easily accessible for a blind person and that due to overcrowding, they’re available only once in four days. “I can go to the bathroom once in every 4-5 days because the bathroom has not been made for disabled,” said Arat.

Arat said a total of 24 inmates are staying in one ward which has a 10-person capacity and that they are given an insufficient amount of food every day.

“I have difficulty in spending time in the ward because books in braille or talking watches are not given,”  said Arat and added that “I expect letters from all my beloved ones. Do not forget how much I love you, and pray for me.”

Cüneyt Arat, who is 90 percent visually disabled, stated that he was sent to Tarsus Prison for the first time and later transferred to Mersin E-type Closed Prison. He said “Despite being 90 percent disabled, they handcuffed to my both hands and made me sit alone. I have filed a criminal complaint against the gendarmerie commander who had me victimized when I was unable to see and no possibility to escape.”

After approval of 8-year, 10-month and 15-day prison sentence by the appeal court, Arat was imprisoned on 10th July. The arrest warrant was announced by his friend who has access to Arat’s Twitter account. Arat said that he had severe profanity and insults in the Anti-Terrorism Branch.

“In the Anti-Terror Branch, two policemen said that I was the responsible for the death of 249 people and shouted at me that I was the murderer,” he said.

Arat was sentenced on Feb. 22 to six years, three months due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which Turkish authorities accuse of masterminding a failed coup last summer. He was also given one year, 10 months and 15 days for promoting a “terrorist” organization.

He was arrested on July 21, 2016 for social media posts that allegedly praised the Gülen movement.

The disabled journalist was placed under house arrest wearing an electronic ankle bracelet until February.

Arat, who has been accused of being a member of the faith-based Gülen movement, labeled by the Turkish government as the organizer of a failed coup last July, was given a suspended sentence in June by an Adana court for praising Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and the Gülen movement he inspired.

In his last tweets late on July 10, Arat said his Twitter account would be managed by a friend of his who is abroad if he was put in jail and said he might be tricked and forced to sign some declaration or documents he doesn’t agree with.

“Let my friends know that I never did anything I should regret,” he tweeted.

In series of tweets after his arrest, Arat’s friend shared photos of him while he was being taken to prison from the police station where he turned himself in. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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