A purged military officer who was detained last week in Ankara on alleged ties to the Gülen movement revealed torture and other ill-treatment in police custody, Bold Medya reported.
Nineteen people including former military officers were detained by Ankara police last week. One of those detainees, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told lawyers from the Ankara Bar Association that he was beaten and threaten with sexual assault by police, the report said.
According to the minutes of the meeting with lawyers Merve Nur Aksoy and Deniz Can Aydın held on January 30, the former military officer also heard the screams of another detainee being tortured by the police.
Turkey has experienced a marked resurgence of torture and ill-treatment in custody over the past five years and especially since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for security forces.
In its two reports published in August, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) confirmed the continued existence of ill-treatment, torture, informal questioning and restricted access to a lawyer as well as a fundamentally flawed medical screening system in Turkish detention facilities.
According to a report drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee in parliament, a total of 27,493 people were victims of torture and maltreatment between 2002, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, and 2020 and that 86 others died from such mistreatment.
While 988 cases of torture or maltreatment were reported in 2002, this figure rose to 3,534 in 2020, the report stated. According to the report, enforced disappearances, which were common in Turkey during the 1990s, made a reappearance following a failed coup in July 2016.
Most of the victims of torture and enforced disappearances after 2016 were individuals having alleged ties to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the coup attempt and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.