169 people including 5 inmates died, 339 maltreated or tortured in Turkey in April: rights report

CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu

Cases of human rights violations in Turkey in April included 169 deaths and 339 incidents of torture or maltreatment, with 78 of them taking place in prisons, where five inmates also died, Turkish Minute reported, citing a report by a main opposition party lawmaker.

The April report on human rights violations in Turkey was drafted by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of a parliamentary committee on human rights.

According to the report, 129 workers, 29 women, five inmates and five refugees were among those whose right to life was violated last month.

April also saw 339 incidents of torture or maltreatment, with 78 of them taking place in prisons, the report said.

“Considering those who were beaten, rear-handcuffed … during detention at meetings and demonstrations and those who didn’t disclose or file a criminal complaint about it despite being mistreated, it becomes clear that the actual number is much higher than this,” Tanrıkulu said in the report.

In the meetings and demonstrations held in April, at least 136 people were subjected to physical violence by the police, the report further showed.

Ill-treatment and torture have become widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers and prisons. 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.

Regarding violations of the right to freedom of speech the MP’s report showed that one journalist was detained and one arrested; four members of the press, an author and a publisher were convicted; and four journalists were attacked in April.

According to the report, Turkish police intervened in at least 45 demonstrations, public press statements and gatherings last month, detaining at least 288 and arresting four among those who attended the events. Also, either an investigation or a legal case was launched against 33 people for attending the events. At least nine similar events were banned by provincial and district governors’ offices.

As part of violations of freedom of association, 26 mayors, lawmakers and party officials were arrested, the report also said.

It also showed that Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), in April blocked access to some content of nine publications, including the Sözcü daily and news websites such as T24 and BBC Turkish, in addition to imposing fines on news channels KRT TV, HALK TV and TELE1.

The US Department of State released its annual human rights report on Turkey in April in which it listed widespread rights violations in 2021.

The report included credible reports of arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and the continued detention of tens of thousands of persons for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech as being among the significant human rights issues in the country.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has rejected the US report, saying the “unfounded allegations” about Turkey in the report “are unfortunate and we reject them totally.’

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