Ayhan Demir, 45, said he was made impotent as a result of the sexual torture and electrocution he was subjected to during his detention in the Mersin Police Department’s counterterrorism unit in September 2016, due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.
“They beat you, slap you and nothing permanent happens,” he said. “But I was beaten to death. They hit my genitals on purpose. They wired something around my genitals and electrocuted me. I had bloody urine for four years. I have been receiving treatment, but my genitals are full of burns.”
Demir talked about his ordeal to the Bold Medya news website. In the video interview his legs were constantly shaking due to his condition.
Demir was working as an accountant at a university preparation school affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement. He was first detained for four days in May 20, 2016 after the government shut down the school. He was detained again in September 2016, shortly after an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016, which the government accused the Gülen movement of masterminding.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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 the coup attempt. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Demir was working in İstanbul when he received a call from his neighbors who said the police were searching his house despite the fact that no one was home. They had confiscated some of his belongings, including his children’s computers. He called the police and asked what they wanted from him. They said they wanted to get his statement. Demir traveled to Mersin and went to the police department. He was immediately put in detention, accused of links to a terrorist organization.
He was held on the fifth floor of the counterterrorism unit for eight days. They hit him in the neck with a hard object, leading to the dislocation of his spine. He was also electrocuted and beaten on his genitals.
“A tall officer told me ‘I will rape your wife, you son of a bitch, you terrorist!” Demir said. “I don’t know his name, but he was the one who hit my genitals.”
Despite being in very bad condition and telling the judge about the torture he endured, he was arrested and sent first to Mersin then to Osmaniye Prison. His ordeal continued there. He was in constant pain and had difficulty keeping his balance, but the prison administration didn’t send him to hospital.
On the night of January 12, 2017, he lost his balance when trying to go to the restroom downstairs and fell from the stairs, badly hitting his head and passing out.
He was taken to the hospital only to be administered a medication and sent back to the prison. In the coming days he constantly demanded to visit the hospital, but he was only given painkillers in the infirmary.
“If the prison staff had let me get the necessary treatment, I wouldn’t be like this today,” Demir said. “After that day my hands and feet started shaking constantly.”
Following the incident, he couldn’t go to the bedroom upstairs in the ward and had to sleep under the stairs in kitchen. “I couldn’t take care of myself,” he said. “My cellmates gave me food, I couldn’t even drink tea without help.”
He submitted a petition to the prison administration demanding they release the CCTV footage showing how he fell so that the doctors would take care of him. He never received a response.
After 14 months in pretrial detention, he was released on November 7, 2017. He visited the hospital and had surgery.
He couldn’t walk for a long time. He still can’t lie down on his back and is prescribed opioids to help with his pain. “After I take the medication, I become so numb that I wouldn’t feel it if you stabbed me,” Demir said. “Once I slept for a day after I got the medication.” According to a disability report issued by Mersin University Hospital he is 87 percent disabled.
Demir’s wife was also detained while he was in prison. He says the police officers threatened her with rape. With pressure from her family, she filed for divorce.
Demir says he came across his torturer in the police department after he was released from prison. “When he saw me, he fled to another room,” he said. “He will be prosecuted one day. Their names must be on the duty list for that day, I won’t let him go.”
He also filed complaints against the prison personnel who wouldn’t let him get the treatment he needed.
After the abortive putsch, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers as evidenced by the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in a report based on his mission to Turkey between November 27 and December 2, 2016. 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.
According to the UN special rapporteur, “torture and other forms of ill-treatment were widespread” in Turkey. “[T]here seemed to be a serious disconnect between declared government policy and its implementation in practice,” the special rapporteur noted.
The report found there were numerous consistent allegations received by the special rapporteur in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup in 2016 and that torture and other forms of ill-treatment were widespread.
The special rapporteur heard persistent reports of severe beatings, punches and kicking, blows with objects, threats and verbal abuse, being forced to strip naked, rape with objects and other sexual violence or threats thereof, sleep deprivation, stress positions and extended blindfolding and/or handcuffing for several days, according to the report.