Turkey promotes police chief connected to allegations of brutal torture


The Turkish Interior Ministry has promoted Yaşar Gidiş, a police chief whose precinct has in recent years been implicated in several allegations of torture, to 1st class commissioner, the highest rank, according to the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, a Brussels-based human rights group.

The province of Mersin, where Gidiş was previously head of the counterterrorism unit, made the headlines numerous times with allegations of brutal interrogation of people detained on accusations of links to the Gülen movement.

One victim who later came forward was Ayhan Demir, an accountant who in 2021 revealed the sexual torture and electrocution he was subjected to, which led him to becoming impotent.

Another alleged victim was Süleyman Akçin, a former police chief who was mistreated by his former colleagues after he was detained in the aftermath of a failed military coup in July 2016.

Akçin revealed his interrogation at a court hearing, detailing physical abuse that involved sexual assault and strappado.

Torture in custody and prisons is a systematic problem in Turkey about which local rights groups, parliamentarians and state authorities receive hundreds of complaints every year.

Earlier this week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on torture and ill-treatment that highlighted the increase in alleged incidents reported from Turkey in past years.

Although victims can include people detained or imprisoned on any grounds, several documents in recent years have indicated that the practice is more pervasive and systematic when it comes to people detained during demonstrations that include criticism of the government or those targeted on other political grounds such as their alleged ties to political and civil networks not approved of by the government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim 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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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