Turkey’s top court rules in favor of purge victim and mother over ‘inhumane’ police treatment

The Constitutional Court has found rights violations in the treatment of prominent human rights activist Veli Saçılık and hismother, Kezban Saçılık, who were subjected to disproportionate police force during a 2017 demonstration, the T24 news website reported on Friday.

Veli Saçılık, one of the victims of the post-coup purges of civil servants after 2016, was physically assaulted by the police while protesting his removal from public service, and his mother, who was 70 at the time, was dragged on the ground and pepper sprayed in her face.

The court concluded that the treatment of the victims was in violation of their right to protest and “incompatible with human dignity.” It also criticized lower court prosecutors who had found it “natural” for protesters to be injured during police interventions for failing to even question the officers involved.

The court ordered the state to pay non-pecuniary damages to the victims and ordered Ankara prosecutors to re-investigate.

Saçılık is well known for having lost one of his arms in 2000 during a brutal intervention against a prison revolt. He stood trial on charges connected to the rioting and was ultimately acquitted. He also famously spoke out against the massive purges of civil servants launched by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a military coup attempt in July 2016.

During a two-year post-coup state of emergency, the government promulgated a series of executive decree-laws that saw the summary dismissal of more than 100,000 civil servants from almost all levels of central and local government. The measure was widely criticized by human rights groups and international observers for disregarding due process and the presumption of innocence.

In addition to losing their jobs, the purge victims were also blacklisted on the national social security database as “terrorism suspects” and banned from traveling abroad.

The security forces often violently intervened in any demonstrations aimed at raising awareness about their plight. Some of them faced criminal prosecution.

Saçılık and his mother were also tried over their 2017 encounter with the police in a case in which they were accused of throwing bottles and stones at the officers. They were acquitted of the charges in 2019.

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