Ousted Kurdish mayor attacked by police dogs, tortured in her home for 3,5 hours

Ousted co-mayor of Van’s Edremit Municipality Rojbin Çetin was attacked by police dogs and tortured in her home in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır during a police raid on June 26, 2020, deputy chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) parliamentary group Meral Danış Beştaş said in a press conference. Çetin is also a member of HDP’s local governments’ board.

Beştaş said “two police dogs were unleashed on Çetin before the police officers entered the house. The dogs bit both her legs and ruptured her flesh … according to the medical report, there is a boot stamp on her waist, her lip is ruptured, there are injuries in many parts of her arms and body.” According to Beştaş, Çetin was alone in her home during the raid and the torture went on for 3,5 hours. The police also prevented Çetin’s lawyer from entering the premises.

Beştaş claimed that the attack on Çetin was deliberately organized and watched by the police officers: “She must have detained by the counterterrorism police but they were accompanied by the special operations team. … We have learned that the police talked to all of the residents in the apartment and warned them against going out or communicating with the outside. They were threatened.”

There have been similar allegations about the Diyarbakır police following a house raid on May 31, 2020, part of an operation to find the suspected killer of a police officer. The two victims had accused the police of letting their dogs attack them during the raid.

Ayşe Acar Başaran, the spokesperson of HDP Women’s Assembly, said Rojbin Çetin was also sexually abused by the police. She was stripped half-naked, her eyes were tied and her photos were taken. Beştaş asked “what are you going to do with these photos? Where are you going to publish them? To which [social media] troll are you going to hand them?”

Diyarbakır police denied the allegations in a statement: “a specially trained search dog held the suspect from her right foot and prevented her from running away after she tried to jump over the balcony door. … To avoid harm to herself and the officers, the suspect was apprehended by the gradual use of force.”

In a press release, Diyarbakır Bar Association also condemned abuse and torture against Rojbin Çetin and said they would file an official complaint against the perpetrators and those hiding them.

Today, HDP deputies have submitted parliamentary questions about the incident to the Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu. The deputies asked if the police were instructed to attack Rojbin Çetin to intimidate the public and if there were any investigations about the incident.

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