Amnesty debunks minister’s claims of lack of reports on alleged torture in Turkish jails

File photo.

Recent remarks by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu claiming a lack of Amnesty International findings or reports on alleged torture in Turkish prisons have been disproven by the Turkey office of the rights group, which listed its reports on alleged torture and ill-treatment in jails as well as enforced disappearances, Turkish Minute reported.

Soylu on Monday answered questions posed by journalists during a program on the pro-government Habertürk TV, saying in response to a question regarding the claims on torture in Turkish prisons that Amnesty has no findings or reports on such allegations.

“However, it has reports on ill-treatment [in Turkish jails], but those are solely about the [members of] drug cartels [behind bars],” Soylu continued.

Following the minister’s remarks, Tarık Beyhan, the campaigns and communications director of the international rights group’s Turkey office, released on Twitter their reports on several topics that include allegations of torture in the country’s prisons.

“Contrary to what Mr. Soylu claimed, we have [reports on] allegations of torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearances. I’ll share them here,” Beyhan said in a tweet before listing the relevant reports.

“Let alone seeing inside [Turkey’s detention] facilities, we haven’t even received a timely and satisfactory answer to our questions so far. Amnesty has been seeking convincing answers to questions regarding rights violations, including torture and ill-treatment. … Those texts [from the Turkish government] have never included convincing answers,” Beyhan said.

One of the reports posted by Beyhan referred to the cases of Kurdish villagers Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban, who were detained as part of an operation conducted by Turkish security forces in Van’s Çatak district on Sept. 11, 2020 and were found by their families in a hospital with serious injuries two days later.

Turgut succumbed to his injuries in the hospital on Sept. 30, while Şiban was discharged on Sept. 20. According to Şiban’s testimony, they were beaten by a large group of soldiers.

In November 2020, Soylu dismissed allegations that Turgut and Şiban were beaten and thrown out of a helicopter by Turkish soldiers, a method of torture in Turkey in the 1990s when Kurds were victims of extraordinary violence, claiming that they had been aiding members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK).

Beyhan also shared an urgent action appeal launched by Amnesty for Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, a former bureaucrat who was dismissed from his job due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement and has been missing since Dec. 29, 2020. His family thinks he is a victim of enforced disappearance.

Nearly 30 people have reportedly been abducted by Turkish intelligence since 2016. Most of the abductions targeted members of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. Many of the abductees mysteriously reappeared in police custody in Ankara after six to nine-month absences.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 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 a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

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