Teacher’s arrest deepens plight of torture victim’s family

Asuman Birinci, the wife of Eyüp Birinci, who endured severe torture in police custody resulting in critical injuries, was recently arrested in Antalya on alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, adding to the family’s persecution, the Aktif Haber news website reported.

Family members have expressed concern about the impact of Asuman Birinci’s imprisonment on the household. Arzu Şahin, Eyüp’s sister-in-law, highlighted the emotional and practical challenges the family now faces.

“My sister was the stabilizing force at home. She managed the teenagers’ needs while tending to her husband’s recovery from torture and imprisonment. Now I worry about the children being motherless and my brother-in-law struggling without support,” Şahin said.

Despite the passing of eight years since the torture, Eyüp Birinci continues to suffer from its effects, frequently displaying outbursts of anger.

Eyüp Birinci, a former teacher, was dismissed from his job by a government decree and later sentenced to over eight years in prison on alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Economic instability compounds the family’s troubles. As a dismissed public employee, Eyüp Birinci has faced difficulties finding and keeping a job, exacerbated by his periodic anger issues.

The family’s financial strain has also forced him to forego necessary psychological treatment.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the 2013 corruption investigations 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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch in July 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court in 2021 ordered that Eyüp Birinci be paid 40,000 Turkish lira ($1,240) in compensation for having been sexually assaulted, beaten and insulted in police custody.

According to the family, he fainted from the torture and was taken to a hospital, where it was determined that he was experiencing internal bleeding due to his colon being ruptured from torture inflicted with a police baton.

After the 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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