Severe post-coup tortures by Ali Türkşen, a founder of Turkey’s new party, exposed

Ali Türkşen

New evidences of severe torture done by Ali Türkşen, a former military officer who had been convicted in the Ergenekon case, who is also among the founders of the İYİ Party (Good Party) established recently under the leadership of Meral Akşener, were exposed by journalist Ahmet Nesin.

Ahmet Nesin, a columnist of Artı Gerçek online news outlet, wrote on Saturday that some of the soldiers accused of being coup plotter after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 were severely tortured by retired military officer Ali Türkşen. Nesin, who has questioned Akşener whether Türkşen would continue in her party as one of the founders despite these severe torture allegations, or not and called the prosecutors for duty about the horrible allegations.

“The following statements I am giving here were taken from the İstanbul SAT (Underwater Offence Command) case file related with the coup attempt of July 15, 2016,” wrote Nesin and quoted the testimonies of Major Tahsin İşlekel and Metin Bircan, a non-commissioned military officer in Turkish army.

The related part of Metin Bircan’s testimony shared in Nesin’s article is as follow:

“…. I went to the SAT Command to get my car in the morning. When I approached to get my car, retired colonel named Ali Türkşen and a colonel named Turan who was next to him asked me what I was looking for. I explained the situation.

“Saying that there was disturbance in the SAT command so the situation was out of order, they made a search in my car. Then they took me in and made me sit. There were some other high-rankings also. They did not handcuff me. Later, to the police officers, they handed over us who were there with me in handcuffs. Col. Turan said to them not touch me, when they were taking us away. On the way the police assaulted the others coming with me.

“But they did not touch me. From there we were taken to the Beykoz Courthouse. We were arrested and taken to the hospital. On the way other friends were beaten again. I did not know those. I only know the sergeant named Murat Fırat. I did not know the others until then. We were taken to the Beykoz Police Headquarter after the hospital. Here too, those were assaulted. They were beaten up pretty much. In the morning they took us to Vatan Emniyet (İstanbul Police Department). And there they beat every one but me. Then we were brought to prison…”

The related part of Major Tahsin İşlekel’s testimony is as follow:

“Col. Turhan walked in around 7:00 a.m. and by addressing to me and said  ‘Friends confess everything, otherwise a professional team waiting at the back to detect your weak spots and smash your face, or harm your family.’ I was frozen after the things I heard and I could not say anything.

“That crew came in from behind. Retired Colonel Ali Türkşen, retired Major Erme Onat and a third person, I had never seen him, having a hard-face and beard, and then I came to know that his name was Bülent Kuru, came in. They took the sergeant to the other room. The crew began to hit me without asking anything. Ali Türkşen hit me first when they first came in and then asking permission from the others he removed the ranks of my official cloth. ‘It’s much more appropriate to talk in this way,’ he said.

“They gave me a blank sheet after they hit me. ‘We will come back in five minutes and you will write the names involved, if not we will disturb your family,’ they said. I thought what I would write. I wrote the names of Captain Özay Cödel and Major Murat Çetinkaya, who were together with me on that day. Because I saw them in the squadron that day. I could not write anyone’s name because I did not see who came out while I was in the meeting with the soldiers.

“I wrote the name of all the staff who were on duty that day, in an effort to not keep the paper blank with the feelings of the beating. I wrote down the names of 4-5 people. Colonel Ali Türkşen colonel with a knife in his hand this time. Erme Onat also had a knife in his hand. He put the knife on my throat. Ali (Türkşen) made my hand bleed with the knife. I tried to restrain the blade on my throat. They told me that I could not do anything. They got mad at me because I could not fill the paper. They went in and out like this for a few more rounds. After the third time, Col. Turan, Ali Türkşen entered with a curly-haired sergeant who I thought was a retired one.

“He called me from where I sat at the table. He ordered me to knee down in the middle of the room. The sergeant tied me up from my hands and feet. He tied my hands and my feet together. My hands and feet were tied behind my back like hog-tie position facing down on the ground. I was tied such a way that when you move your leg, your arm is tightened with pain and when you move your arm your leg will be tightened in pain. My face was on the floor. They said ‘You cannot go to toilet either, you can defecate in your pants.’

“They tied me at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and checked me each and every hour. Midnight they untied me and I went to the toilet. After the toilet was tied up again. Turhan colonel had pity on me. He said to the curly sergeant ‘Untie the rope between his hands and feet, and make him sit on the chair.’ When they came to me in the daytime controls they asked me to confess that I was a member of Gülen movement. I did not accept it. I was kicked and punched as long as I refused. I was so hurt and after a certain period of time I said ‘Whatever you say…’

“I was tied up in the chair between 00:100 a.m. and 07:00 a.m. at night. They just gave me a glass of water. They gave me a slice of dry bread. They said that they put drugs in the water, and they said sleep well. At 07:00 a.m. in the morning of July 17 (2016), they tied our eyes and mouth. They took us to the military unit by continuesly hitting my head to the walls. They said they were waiting for the prosecutor to come there. We waited there for about 2 hours. The police came to that place. They untied my eyes. They took me to the Beykoz Police Headquarter (in İstanbul). We were also exposed to the assault of the special operations police there. We were taken to Vatan Emniyet. I stayed there for a while. After 2-3 days, I was sent to Çağlayan Courthouse. I was arrested…”

The torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centers and prisons have become a norm rather than an exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country in wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has reported one of its studies titled “Suspicous Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in Turkish jails and detention centers where a torture and ill-treatment is being practiced. In most cases, authorities concluded these as suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

The suspicious death has also taken place beyond the prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before the detention. SCF has compiled 92 cases of suspicious death and suicides in Turkey in a list as of November 2, 2017 in a searchable database format.

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 Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah 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. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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