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Turkey’s ATK finds 81-year-old disabled Kurdish woman fit for imprisonment

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Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) has issued a report that finds Makbule Özer, an 81-year-old Kurdish woman with serious disabilities and health problems, fit to serve her prison sentence, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Family members are expected to take Özer to a prison facility on Monday, the report said.

Özer is suffering from asthma and shortness of breath. She has limited eyesight and mobility in her knees, ankles and wrists. Her disabilities have been documented in a medical report issued by a local hospital.

Convicted of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, Özer was arrested in the eastern province of Van in May 2022 and sentenced to two years, one month in prison. In September 2022, the execution of her sentence was postponed for one year at the urging of the ATK.

Since the 1980s, Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern and eastern regions have been the scene of an armed conflict between the security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

In addition to claiming the lives of tens of thousands of people, the conflict has had serious implications for the human rights situation in the affected areas where security forces and the authorities were often criticized over widespread abuses.

The country’s anti-terror legislation is also widely criticized for being overly broad, allowing too much room for interpretation.

In recent years the ATK, the agency consulted for its medical expertise in the cases of sick prisoners, has been accused of complicity in the continued detention of sick prisoners, with its questionable reports that found ailing inmates fit to remain behind bars. Prominent Turkish human rights advocates have accused the institution of having lost all independence from the government.

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