Detained teacher severely tortured, his wife harrassed by Turkish police

Once an inspiring educator to his pupils, a Bartın teacher was detained with her hands cuffed behind back as a perceived enemy of the state, his wife said in a letter to Turkish media.

With the names of both the teacher and his wife remaining anonymous, the details of the police raid on their home and the details she gives in the letter sweep out credibility concerns. Dismissed over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, the teacher was tortured under custody, according to his wife, who was also mocked by police during the raid.

Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and has detained or investigated more than 161,751 people over links to the movement so far. Several human rights organizations have reported torture and maltreatment in some detention centres across the country.

“[What I explain in this letter] are neither stories from a horror movie nor from a battle scene. These are not the things that a human being would see fit to do to another human. But they did all these and Bartın provincial police chief İsa Aydoğdu, KOM [Anti-smuggling and organized crime] Department head Tolga Sipahi, police officers Ahmet Kıyak, İlkay Boynueğri, Ayhan Çelik and another police officer named Özcan and three other policemen that we do not know the identities of are responsible for all,” the wife says.

“Our door was kicked at 07:00 in the morning. They were so crazy that they didn’t even hear voice asking who was knocking the door. There were no appropriate clothes on me so my husband opened the door. They immediately broke into the house and swooped on my husband. While I and my children were shaking out of fear, they blew him down, stepped on his back with their boots and detained him with his hands cuffed behind back.

“When I shouted: ‘Leave my husband, you thugs!’ İlkay Boynueğri said: ‘Better be scared of us, you traitor! I am the judge, I am the prosecutor, I am the God, God! I can do whatever I want to your husband’ before he attempted to pinch my cheek. I pushed his hand. I was in a shock.

“Even though our house was turned upside down, they wanted me to sign a report claiming that they did no harm to the place. I did not want to sign it. Then a police officer named Ayhan held my headscarf, pulling my hair and said: ‘Shut up and sign this report!’

“We couldn’t hear from my husband for 13 days.

After spending 29 days under custody, the teacher was put in pre-trial detention where he has turned his 10th month by June.

The wife says her husband were tortured before being put under pre-trial arrest. She quoted his husband as saying: “Ayhan Çelik was hitting on my testicles. The pain in my testicles continued for a month. I may not be able to be a father again.”

According to the wife, police officers tortured the teacher to find out who else are the followers of the Gülen movement in Bartın.

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, a study by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) earlier this month has revealed.

On December 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer talked about an environment conducive to torture following a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. He noted that Turkey is not following up on investigating torture allegations. Melzer’s visit, the first by a UN torture expert to Turkey since 1998, came a month after US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Turkish police of torturing detainees.

On Oct. 27, 2016, in a 43-page report titled “A Blank Check: Turkey’s Post-Coup Suspension of Safeguards Against Torture,” HRW documented 13 specific abuse incidents concerning Turkey’s post-coup detainees. The alleged abuse cases ranged from the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation to severe beatings, sexual abuse and the threat of rape.

Human rights group Amnesty International reported on July 24, 2016 that it had received credible evidence of detainees in Turkey being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since a failed coup on July 15.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 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 participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13. (SCF with June 21, 2017

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