Teacher allegedly subjected to torture, inhumane treatment at Turkish detention center

A teacher who was detained in January 2017 was allegedly subjected for a month to torture including beatings, strip searches and threats of sexual abuse as well as inhumane treatment at a police detention center of Turkey’s southeastern city of Şanlıurfa.

Speaking to Bold Medya, the former teacher, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said he was stripped naked and brutally tortured in police custody. The police threatened him with sexual assault and performing surgery on him without anesthesia, according to the report.

The former teacher, who was working for a private school at the time of his detention on January 1 due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, was able to meet with a lawyer on January 30, 2017.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The former teacher claimed that during detention he was pressured into “giving up the names” of other people in the movement and invoking the effective remorse law. Following the police custody, he was imprisoned for 23 months in Şanlıurfa Prison, Bold reported.

Turkey has experienced a marked resurgence of torture and ill-treatment in custody over the past five years and especially since the coup attempt. 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.

In its two reports published in August, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) confirmed the continued existence of ill-treatment, torture, informal questioning and restricted access to a lawyer as well as a fundamentally flawed medical screening system in Turkish detention facilities.

According to a report drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee in parliament, a total of 27,493 people were victims of torture and maltreatment between 2002, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, and 2020 and that 86 others died from such mistreatment.

While 988 cases of torture or maltreatment were reported in 2002, this figure rose to 3,534 in 2020, the report stated. According to the report, enforced disappearances, which were common in Turkey during the 1990s, made a reappearance following a failed coup in July 2016.

Most of the victims of torture and enforced disappearances after 2016 were individuals having alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

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