Syrian family claims they were tortured at border by Turkish soldiers

Photo credit: MA

A Syrian family attempting to cross into Turkey was detained in the border city of Urfa and subjected to torture by members of the Turkish military, according to the mother, who spoke to the Mezopotamya news agency.

Mari Haci, her husband Ahmet Al Hasan and their five children attempted to cross into Turkey from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn on August 9. They were detained by Turkish soldiers and beaten. Three hours later, they were taken to the basement of a police station in the neighboring city of Mardin.

According to Haci, the young girls were completely undressed by the police officers, and her clothes were cut off her with a knife. The officers took the $16,000 hidden in Haci’s underwear and continued beating her in front of her children. When her husband objected, the policemen started battering him. The family was later taken back to the border and dropped off in Syria.

The soldiers did not spare her children, either, Haci said. “They kicked my children with their military boots, and now my children have psychological problems due to the trauma.”

The family managed to re-enter Turkey on August 19 and went to Mardin, where they filed a complaint with the Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office with the help of the Human Rights Association (İHD).

Fevzi Adsız, president of IHD Mardin, said these were common occurrences at the border and that the IHD would assist the family in their demand for justice.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report in 2019 documenting human rights violations at the Turkish-Syrian border. According to the report Turkish border guards have been systematically blocking the entry of Syrian asylum seekers by shooting and beating them. In some cases the guards detained and denied asylum seekers any medical assistance. These acts have resulted in serious injuries and in some cases, death.

The HRW report also mentions that Turkish officials forced asylum seekers to sign forms they were not allowed to read and transported them to Syria. In July 2019 Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu denied that Turkey had deported Syrians but said that “anyone who wants to go back to Syria voluntarily” can benefit from procedures allowing them to return to safe areas. These safe areas were unspecified by the government. The report contradicts this statement, finding that Turkey has unlawfully deported Syrians to the Idlib Governorate, one of the most dangerous areas in Syria.

A report published by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in 2019 said the number of Syrian civilians killed by the Turkish gendarmerie at the border had reached 422 since 2011.

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