Detained wives of Turkish officers subjected to abuse, letter reveals

A letter shared by imprisoned wives of Turkish military officers reveal how they were subjected to torture and abuse while they were under detention and how the ill-treatment later continued in prison cells.

The revelations, made in a letter written by the imprisoned women in the Block 14 of Sincan Prison in Turkish capital, show how authorities totally disregarded the health conditions of the detainees and ignored their basic demands such as food and water.

The letter, obtained by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), stated a woman who gave a birth five days ago was separated from her new born baby and prevented from breastfeeding. Her post-natal care was ignored and she was forced to share a bathroom with tens of others in the detention. The letter stated that there were other women who were breastfeeding their babies but unable to do so after detention because they were prevented from doing so by officials. Another woman who has just beaten a cancer disease was also among jailed.

THE WIVES OF 105 MILITARY OFFICERS DETAINED

In an unprecedented move, Yücel Erkman, a public prosecutor in Ankara, ordered on Jan. 5, 2017 the detention of the wives of 105 military officers as part of probe into failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. The list included the wives of 40 majors, 40 lieutenants, 14 lieutenant colonels, 14 first lieutenants and two colonels. Police detained 84 women while the rest remained at large.

Prosecutor referred all women to court for an arrest while releasing one woman who was alleged to have admitted a crime. The criminal court of peace, a special single-judge court that was created by Turkish president as special project in 2014 to persecute his critics and opponents, ordered the arrest of 80 women while releasing three with judicial control measure.

The jailed wives of Turkish officers wrote in the letter that the decision to arrest them during the arraignment hearing was already made before they were taken to the court. They explained that police ordered them to sign detention depositions that were supposed to be signed only after the formal arrest decision were made by the judge and brought handcuffs in bags to put them on before transferring to the prison. That suggests the arraignment hearing was nothing more than a show and decision to put the wives of officers were already made in advance.

In several cases where the police could not locate wanted women who later called in to report themselves when they became aware of the detention warrants. Although they voluntarily turned themselves in, the police records showed them as being caught. In some cases, several women who are teachers by profession were detained by the police in the classroom in front of their students. The women said they were traumatized and endured psychological and physical abuse in the detention.

TEACHERS, ACADEMICS, SOCIOLOGISTS, PUBLIC SERVANTS…

The women, among them teachers, academics, sociologists and many other public servants, are accused of cheating in a countrywide exam popularly known as the KPSS to qualify for public jobs on July 10, 2010. The exam was cancelled amid cheating allegations and later repeated on August 30, 2010. Other accusations against the women includes depositing money in Bank Asya, which operated as the largest Islamic lender and perfectly legitimate financial institution until it was confiscated by the government over ties to the Gülen movement last year.

Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement for masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 but failed to present any direct evidence linking the movement to the attempt. Gülen himself strongly denied any involvement with the coup and called for international probe. Many believe the coup was orchestrated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to set up his critics for a mass persecution and transform secular Turkish military, the second largest army in NATO, into an Islamist powerhouse.

Immediately after the putsch, the government has launched mass purges not only in the military but in all branches of the government without even bothering for an effective judicial or administrative investigations. The government has formally arrested more than 45,000 over alleged links to the movement. In the meantime, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged from government job.

According to a report on the aldrimer.no website last month, NATO sources believed the coup have been staged by the president of Turkey himself. The website said “the dominant NATO assessment is quite clear.”

“The senior officers, three and four-star generals, and those who worked with Turkey for 30-40 years and who mentored Turkish officers for four or five years, say they do not believe that there was a coup. If the Turkish Armed Forces wanted to carry out a coup, they would have succeeded. That’s a tradition in Turkey,” a NATO source told aldrimer.no.

“They had a list of 1,600 names the very next day of people they wanted gone,” he added.

According to the report, some 80 to 90 percent of Turkish officers serving at NATO headquarters were relieved of their duties and recalled to Turkey. Those who dared to return home have been jailed, said sources. One of whom added: “Turkish officers who still have contact with NATO said that Erdogan had been planning the so-called coup for a year and had a list of people he wanted out. … I have so far not met anyone who believes there was a real coup attempt.”

Feb. 18, 2017

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