Report: Turkish police torture 3 Gülen-linked detainees at Ankara counterterrorism unit

File photo.

Three people who were detained by police in May for alleged links to the Gülen movement have been subjected to heavy torture and maltreatment in police custody at the counterterrorism unit of the Ankara Police Department, online news outlet Aktif Haber reported on Tuesday.

According to the report Turkish Telecommunications Authority (BTK) experts Mehmet Kaşif Tiryaki and Osman Arıcı along with teacher Hasan Hüseyin Topuk have been tortured by the police since they were detained on May 30.

Based on information shared on some Turkish social media accounts, Aktif Haber reported that the police officers who tortured the three detainees said, “This is a special duty, and we will carry it out to whatever extent is required.” It was also reported that the detainees’ lawyers personally witnessed the torture.

Torture and mistreatment in police custody increased in Turkey in 2017 despite the presence of closed-circuit cameras installed by the Turkish government in 2012, and police abused detainees outside police station premises, according to a report by the US State Department.

The State Department recently released its 64-page Turkey 2017 Human Rights Report, which stated that based on human rights groups’ reports on violations in Turkey, during the first 11 months of 2017 the Human Rights Association (İHD) received 423 complaints related to abuse while in custody. It also reported that intimidation and shaming of detainees by police were common and that victims hesitated to report abuse due to fear of reprisal.

According to the report, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV-HRFT) reported that in the first 11 months of the year, it received 570 complaints, including 328 allegations of torture and inhuman treatment by government authorities. The government declined to provide information on whether it undertook investigations into allegations of mistreatment in prisons or detention centers during the year.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in late March 2018 also exposed the details of torture cases in Turkey last year and called on the Turkish government to enforce its proclaimed policy of zero tolerance for torture.

A 28-page report issued by the OHCHR quoted the wife of a man suspected of being part of the Gülen movement: “They took me to the police station, terrorism unit … They called the prosecutor and told him on the phone, ‘We have got the wife of a terrorist.’ … Then the police officer started threatening to take off my clothes and that they would show me to the detained male soldiers. He put his hands under my T-shirt and started to take it off. … I was numb, silent.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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