Members of the Furkan Foundation, an anti-government religious group, on Monday were beaten and detained by police officers in Turkey’s Osmaniye province, the Tr724 news website reported.
The detainees were resisting the closure of a private religious education center affiliated with their foundation. Among them was Semra Kuytul, wife of founder Alparslan Kuytul, who is currently in pretrial detention.
Semra Kuytul and the other 29 detainees were not allowed to see their lawyers and were scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. Lawyer Alişan İnci said on Twitter he was not allowed to see his clients and was escorted out of the police station by police officers.
Osmaniye Emniyetine gözaltindaki Furkan Gönüllüleri ile ilgili bilgi almaya geldim Bahçeden girer girmez Güvenlik Şube müdürü olduğunu söyleyen bir polis yanındaki polislerle konuşmama dahi fırsat vermeden dışarı çıkardılar. Müvekkilerimiz ne durumda bilmiyoruz!
— Alişan İnci (@Alisaninci1) June 27, 2022
The Furkan Foundation is known for its criticism of the Turkish government and for ardently advocating that religion and politics not mix.
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 the 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.
Furkan Foundation members have frequently been protesting the arrest of their founder and the pressure on their activities. In many cases police intervened in their protests with tear gas and used excessive force against the protestors.
According to recent data from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), Turkish police employed unlawful tactics including mistreatment and beating while detaining 13,935 people between 2018 and 2021.
In an earlier statement the TİHV said restricting or suspending the freedoms of assembly and demonstration was a way to narrow the scope of democratic citizenship and to gradually destroy democracy in Turkey.