– Mass torture in Turkey under the spell of nationalism and religious zealotry
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 a norm rather than an exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country, a new study by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed.
The Turkish government has even allowed members of the security services to use black sites to hold large number of detainees without a due process, and without an access to the lawyer of family members.
Police, military and intelligence officers have acted with impunity in perpetrating torture and ill-treatment of detainees. In many cases, Turkish authorities refused to investigate torture allegations and ruled for non-prosecution when they were compelled to initiate probes.
“The most worrisome aspect for the resumption of torture practices that are reminiscent of notorious years of 1980s and 1990s in Turkey is the introduction of Jihadist motivation for perpetrators of torture and cruel treatment,” Abdullah Bozkurt, president of the SCF has said.
Turkey’s Islamist rulers banked on nationalism and religious zealotry to encourage members of law enforcement agencies to conduct wide-scale torture on government foes, critics and opponents.
Erdoğan was the chief instigator in encouraging the torture and ill-treatment of his critics, especially Gülen movement participants. He went to the extreme by declaring that movement sympathizers ‘do not have a right to life’ and has often entertained the idea of re-establishing the death penalty specifically for these people. In fact, some of the suspicious cases of death under custody are believed to be caused by torture performed on victims, but their cases were hushed-up.
The report details 29 cases of torture incidents including rape, sexual abuse, severe beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, subjecting to cold pressurized water, depriving of food and water, threats to kill and rape. Some of the torture allegations made by the victims during the first trial hearings into their cases or during the arraignment hearings, the first public opportunity to raise their cases in the courtroom. Many were documented by lawyers and family members of the victims.
Although members of the Gülen movement has been viciously targeted by Erdoğan regime and has borne the brunt of these torture and ill-treatment practices under detention or in prison, Kurds, Alevis, leftist groups and others received their share of oppression and repression.
By allowing torture to make a come back in Turkey in a larger and unprecedented scale, Turkish government has not only violated Turkish laws but also breached international human rights laws. Emergency rule does not absolve Turkey from respecting to these commitments under the conventions.
The cases recorded in this report represent only tip of the iceberg in pervasive torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners in Turkey. Many are afraid of speaking up for fear of further negative repercussions on their plight.
The fact that thousands of lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, doctors and forensic experts were arrested as part of escalating intimidation campaign by Turkish government made it quite challenging to document torture and ill-treatment cases.
154,694 individuals have been faced a legal action, most in the form of detentions, and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links in the last ten months alone.