Eighty women reportedly being tortured under custody by Turkish police at Mersin Provincial Security Directorate

File photo.

A total of 80 women, including high school and university students, who were detained have been severely tortured under police custody at the Mersin Provincial Security Directorate, according to a social media account that became specialised in tracing and monitoring torture cases in Turkey following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to serial posts by Twitter account @Turkeydeiskence (Torture in Turkey) on Saturday, police officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organised Crime Directorate (KOM) in Mersin province have detained 80 women, including 25  high school and university students, in recent days. A mother with her 2-month-old baby is reportedly among the detainees, in police custody for the last four days in dire conditions.

The Twitter account shared the following posts about the claims of torture under police custody at the Mersin Provincial Security Directorate:

1) A total of 80 women, including 20 high school and university students, have been tortured at the Mersin Provincial Security Directorate!

2) Police officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organised Crime Directorate (KOM) in Mersin province detained 80 women, including 5 high school students and 20 university students, three days ago.

3) Among the women taken into custody is a mother and her 2-month-old baby. The mother and her baby have been in police custody for four days.

4) One of the high school students who were taken into custody has been held alone in detention at the juvenile branch office of the provincial police department because she is just 15 years old.

5) This 15-year-old high school student has been trying to make her voice heard, saying, “Throw me in prison if you need to, but do not leave me alone here!”

6) The detainees are prevented from meeting with their lawyers. An official from a notary public was not allowed to enter the police department to witness an authorisation from Hülya Yassıkaya, who has been kept in police custody.

7) A lawyer who witnessed the torture fainted at the exit of the police department.

The Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) said in  December 2017 that 2,278 people were tortured and 11 abducted in Turkey during the first 11 months of 2017.

In a report titled “Tortured to Death”, SCF investigators exposed on Nov. 21, 2017 the case of 42-year-old history teacher Gökhan Açıkkollu, who died after enduring 13 days of torture and abuse in police detention in İstanbul.

The torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centers and prisons have become the norm rather than the exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in jails and detention centers, where torture and ill-treatment are being practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 107 cases of suspicious deaths and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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