By Elizabeth Mizon
26 July 2016
(The Canary) – Amnesty International is reporting that it has “gathered credible evidence” that thousands of detainees, accused of being connected to the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey, are being tortured. Yet, politicians in the West have responded with a deafening silence.
Why is this? Is the situation in Turkey somehow not as bad as the other countries we condemn for human rights abuses? Let’s consider the findings of Amnesty.
While video has appeared online showing bloodied detainees, Amnesty are focusing on the reports from “lawyers, doctors and a person on duty in a detention facility”:
Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.
More than 10,000 people have been detained and tens of thousands more dismissed from their jobs, in what is being called a “purge” of President Erdoğan’s political opponents. Erdoğan has publicly denied this, yet he has also been quoted as saying he wants to “cleanse” public institutions and purge the movement against him “by the roots”.
The reports outlined by Amnesty are excruciating to read. They not only contain the allegations of torture, rape, and beatings, but also reports that not all detainees are being provided with medical attention.
A lawyer told Amnesty that they had overheard a police doctor discussing a detainee with severe injuries, from whom they were withholding medical treatment. The doctor said, “Let him die. We will say he came to us dead.” [more]
24 July 2016 (Amnesty International) – Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.
The organization is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.
Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.
“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.
"It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”
Detainees are being arbitrarily held, including in informal places of detention. They have been denied access to lawyers and family members and have not been properly informed of the charges against them, undermining their right to a fair trial.
On Saturday the Turkish government issued its first decree under new powers authorised by its declaration of a state of emergency. The decree dramatically increases the amount of time detainees can be held without being charged from four to 30 days. The change risks exposing detainees to further torture and other ill-treatment. The decree also provides for officials to observe or even record meetings between pre-trial detainees and lawyers, and detainees are restricted in who they can choose to represent them, further undermining the right to a fair trial.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Amnesty International spoke to lawyers, doctors and a person on duty in a detention facility about the conditions detainees were being held in.
The organization heard multiple reports of detainees being held in unofficial locations such as sports centres and a stable. Some detainees, including at least three judges, were held in the corridors of courthouses.
All of the interviewees wished to remain anonymous for security reasons. The organization heard extremely alarming accounts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, particularly at the Ankara Police Headquarters sports hall, Ankara Başkent sports hall and the riding club stables there.
According to these accounts, police held detainees in stress positions, denied them food, water and medical treatment, verbally abused and threatened them and subjected them to beatings and torture, including rape and sexual assault.
Two lawyers in Ankara working on behalf of detainees told Amnesty International that detainees said they witnessed senior military officers in detention being raped with a truncheon or finger by police officers.
A person on duty at the Ankara Police Headquarters sports hall saw a detainee with severe wounds consistent with having been beaten, including a large swelling on his head. The detainee could not stand up or focus his eyes and he eventually lost consciousness. While in some cases detainees were afforded limited medical assistance, police refused to allow this detainee essential medical treatment despite his severe injuries. The interviewee heard one police doctor on duty say: “Let him die. We will say he came to us dead.”
The same interviewee said 650-800 male soldiers were being held in the Ankara police headquarters sports hall. At least 300 of the detainees showed signs of having been beaten. Some detainees had visible bruises, cuts, or broken bones. Around 40 were so badly injured they could not walk. Two were unable to stand. One woman who was also detained in a separate facility there had bruising on her face and torso.
The interviewee also heard police officers make statements indicating that they were responsible for the beatings, and that detainees were being beaten so that “they would talk”.
In general, it appears that the worst treatment in detention was reserved for higher-ranking military officers.
Many of the detainees in the sports hall and other facilities were handcuffed behind their backs with plastic zip-ties and forced to kneel for hours. Interviewees reported that zip-ties were often fastened too tight and left wounds on the arms of detainees. In some cases detainees were also blindfolded throughout their detention.
Lawyers described how people were brought before prosecutors for interrogation with their shirts covered in blood.
Interviewees also said that based on what detainees told them police deprived them of food for up to three days and water for up to two days.
One lawyer working at the Caglayan Courthouse in Istanbul said that some of the detainees she saw there were in extreme emotional distress, with one detainee attempting to throw himself out of a sixth story window and another repeatedly slamming his head against the wall. [more]