Letter by former public servants reveals mistreatment in Ankara’s mass detention center

A letter written and signed by 10 former public servants who claim they were severely mistreated in a detention center after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 was published by the Bold Medya news website.

According to the letter they were kept 14 days in a gym in Ankara that was used as a mass detention center. The gym, run by the Ankara police department, was used as a detention center after the coup attempt by its counterterrorism department.

The detainees were made to clean blood from the floor, which they believed belonged to previous victims of mistreatment. They also witnessed other detainees being severely beaten.

The letter revealed that a detainee who had a heart attack was made to wait half an hour before the police officers called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. The man had an angiography and was brought back to the detention center the same day. Unable to endure the conditions, the man fainted and hit his head on the floor.

Another detainee who suffered from multiple sclerosis was made to sit in his wheelchair for six days.

Additionally, the detainees said they were more than 150 men in one hall and that they were not provided with basic necessities. They were forced to sleep on the floor without any blankets or mattresses and were only provided with two slices of bread and a piece of cheese a day. Moreover, the hall was sprayed with some kind of disinfectant while there were detainees inside, causing respiratory problems.

The detainees complained that their families were not notified of their whereabouts and that they were not allowed to see their lawyers. Many lawyers were subjected to threats if they insisted on meeting with their clients.

The gym-turned-detention-center in Ankara has been at the center of torture allegations. Harsh methods of torture such as rape, sexual assault, severe beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, use of cold pressurized water, deprivation of food and water and threats to kill or rape were resorted to in the gym, where 800 to 1,000 people were detained at the same time, a fact 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.

Some of the victims held in the mass detention center had the opportunity to recount the torture they had suffered once they were arraigned in court.

Turkey has been experiencing a deepening human rights crisis in recent years. A 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.

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