Imprisoned journalist says tortured with cold water during detention

Pro-Kurdish DIHA news agency editor Ömer Çelik.

Under arrest since mid-January, pro-Kurdish DİHA news agency editor Ömer Çelik has said he was forced to stand in a bucket filled with cold water, by police officers who took him into custody late December 2016.

An İstanbul court ruled on arrest of Çelik and his two colleagues —  Tunca Öğreten and  Mahir Kanaat– on accusation of membership to a terrorist organization after they spent 24 days under detention on Jan. 17, 2017. A main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) delegation visited the three journalists on Sunday.

“I was tortured in front of my 35-days-old baby; I was subjected to violence and brute force. They took me out to the balcony and made me wait in a wide bucket filled with cold water. They also filmed this torment in a video. They did not let me call my lawyer,” Çelik told CHP delegation that he was subjected to maltreatment when police came to round him up.

On April 20, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee announced that the Turkish government did not give permission for a report on Turkish prisons to be published.

The National Police Department warned all its personnel to obey international rules of detention and to stop using unofficial detention centers days before a delegation from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) was to pay a visit to Turkey in order to ascertain if people in custody are subject to any maltreatment in late August, 2016, according to an anonymous tip received by Turkey Purge.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported in earlier reports that Turkey’s post-coup detainees are being subjected to subject including rape.

In the days leading up the World Press Freedom Day, Turkey stands out from the crowd by a distant margin by holding a record number of 235 journalists and media workers behind bars, breaking an all time world record. More than half of the journalists who are in prison around the world are now located in Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) and a candidate member for the European Union (EU).

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 235 journalists are now in jails, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 214 are arrested pending trial, Only 21 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons.  An outstanding detention warrants remain for 103 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. (SCF with May 1, 2016

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