6 lawyers from Ankara Bar human rights committee resign following bar’s decision not to publish torture report

Six lawyers from the Ankara Bar Association’s human rights committee resigned in protest following the bar’s decision not to publish a report on allegations of torture made by detainees held at a police detention center, the Bianet news website reported.

The report was presented by the lawyers to the management of the Ankara Bar Association; however, they decided not to publish it.

The lawyers said the bar administration had earlier censored the committee’s statements on the Saturday Mothers case, the health of former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Aysel Tuğluk in prison, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgements on human rights violations in the country and the imprisonment of former military cadets.

While Ankara Bar President Kemal Koranel dismisses such allegations, the lawyers said the problems began after Koronel’s election in December as the bar’s new president, Bianet said.

People who were detained due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, were subjected to torture at a police detention center in Ankara, according to a report by the TR724 news website on January 25.

TR724 said 300 people have been detained in the last month in police raids across Turkey as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Some of the detainees were beaten and forced to sign false confessions while in police custody, TR724 reported, citing their families and lawyers.

After receiving complaints of torture and mistreatment, lawyers from the association’s human rights committee interviewed the detainees and compiled their findings in a report.

According to the report citing the lawyers’ findings, detainees said they were subjected to beating, forced nudity, torture involving the use of water and threats of rape.

Yesterday six lawyers organizations — Lawyers for Justice, Lawyers for Democracy, Progressive Lawyers Association, Lawyers in Solidarity, Lawyers for Freedom, and Societal Law — issued a statement from their social media accounts saying that torture is a crime against humanity and that it is the Ankara Bar Association’s responsibility to publish their findings to raise awareness.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

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