13 students subjected to mistreatment in Bursa police custody: report

Thirteen students who were detained due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement were allegedly subjected to mistreatment while in police custody in the western province of Bursa, Turkish Minute reported, citing the TR724 news website.

According to TR724, the students were detained by counterterrorism police from the Bursa Police Department on Feb. 21 due to alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of an investigation carried out by the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The detainees, who were interrogated at the Bursa Police Department for four days without any evidence supporting the claims against them, were allegedly beaten for refusing to accept the accusations, TR724 said.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights advocate and deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has called on Turkish authorities to investigate the claims of mistreatment at the Bursa Police Department.

The MP on Saturday asked in a tweet addressed to the Bursa Governor’s Office whether they have an explanation regarding the allegations, also asking lawyers from the Bursa Bar Association their views regarding the rights and freedoms of the students in detention.

The allegations come after the Ankara Bar Association recently decided not to publish a report on allegations of torture made by detainees held at a police detention center in Ankara.

The report was presented by the lawyers to the management of the bar association; however, they decided not to publish it, drawing widespread criticism and prompting resignations from within the association.

According to a report by the TR724 news website in late January, the allegations in the report were made by people who were detained due to alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Some of the detainees were beaten and forced to sign false confessions while in police custody, TR724 said, citing their families and lawyers.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of Dec. 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

After the abortive putsch, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

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