Members of anti-gov’t Furkan Foundation allegedly tortured, threatened by Turkish police

Police allegedly subjected three members of the Furkan Foundation, an anti-government religious group, who were detained on September 10 to torture and mistreatment at the Adana Police Department in southern Turkey.

According to a statement posted on the foundation’s Twitter account, the three people were subjected to unlawful strip-search and were threatened with rape. According to Yusuf Işık, the foundation’s lawyer, the police said they would rape the men with batons and castrate them.

Işık tweeted that the police pumped water into the detainees’ mouths. “My clients were stripped naked, beaten, suffocated with water and threatened with more torture if they did not provide information on the foundation,” he said.

He said he was prevented from seeing his clients while they were in detention and that when he was allowed to, a day later, he noticed signs of beating on their faces and bodies. “I wanted to record the torture in a written statement, but the police officer said the meeting was over and prevented me from doing so,” said Işık.

The Furkan Foundation is known for being critical of the Turkish government and for ardently advocating that religion and politics should not mix.

The foundation’s president, Alparslan Kuytul, was arrested in 2018 for criticizing Turkey’s military involvement in northern Syria. He publicly opposed the government’s decision to send Turkish soldiers to Afrin, after which he was detained along with 28 other people from foundation.

They were charged with “abusing their religious power” and “organizing a terrorist organization. Kuytul was acquitted in 2020, but raids on members’ homes and offices in various cities have repeatedly taken place since then.

According to a monthly report released by human rights defender and opposition deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, 248 people were tortured or maltreated in prisons, hospitals and detention centers in July. Rights violations in prisons included denial of medical treatment, deprivation of basic needs including food, beds and warm water, and the forced transfer to other prisons

According to a report by the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, on his mission to Turkey from November 27 to December 2, 2016, “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 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, falaqa, 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.

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