Family says Dr. Özyavuz did not commit suicide but died due to torture by Turkish police

Dr İbrahim Halil Özyavuz (R).

The family members of Dr. İbrahim Halil Özyavuz, a brilliant medical doctor who was detained by Turkish police and imprisoned a month ago as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, said that he did not commit suicide but lost his life after he has been subject to heavy torture by police officers under pre-trial detention.

Previously it was reported that Dr. Özyavuz attempted to commit suicide on Friday in the notorious Silivri Prison and he lost his life on Sunday in an intensive care unit at the Haseki State Hospital in İstanbul.

Turkish journalist Cevheri Güven shared the information he has received from Dr. Özyavuz’s family members during an interview he gave to the Bold Media and stated that the cause of his death is the torture that he was subjected under pre-trial detention. According to journalist Güven, Dr. Özyavuz’s family members have seen the traces of heavy torture on his body as they came to get his funeral in İstanbul.

Cevheri has also shared the information that Dr. Özyavuz’s family were first given three different explanations by police about the cause of his death and then they have been threatened by police to not search the reason of the death of their beloved one. Journalist Güven stated that “Father Özyavuz has said ‘They can also kill us. There is no state here.’”

The Twitter account “Magduriyet Mesajları @magdurmesaji_tr”, which covers the systematic and widespread persecution pursued by the Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had stated that Dr. İbrahim Halil Özyavuz attempted suicide in Silivri Prison on Friday and died in the intensive care unit at Haseki State Hospital in İstanbul on Sunday.

Dr. Özyavuz was a successful radiologist who studied at the prestigious Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty of İstanbul University, graduated with honors and came third in the national Exam on Medical Expertise (TUS). Years ago, Özyavuz’s extraordinary success in a university entrance exam was also extensively covered by the Turkish media since he was the child of a poor farm family with seven children in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa province.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, one of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders and a medical doctor, also shared the same information on Dr. Özyavuz and condemned the persecution of innocent people by the Erdoğan regime. Özyavuz was accused of allegedly using the ByLock mobile phone application.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, military officers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt in July 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 113 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 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 civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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