Turkish authorities drop investigation into torture of former diplomats

Turkish authorities have dropped an investigation into the alleged torture of former employees of the Turkish Foreign Ministry who were detained in May 2019 as part of a massive clampdown on members of the faith-based Gülen movement, a dissident group that has long been persecuted by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish media reported.

The Ankara prosecutor who conducted the investigation cited a lack of sufficient evidence “other than the abstract allegations of the complainants” for dropping the probe, although a report by a committee from the Ankara Bar Association had documented torture during interrogations.

The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the detention of 249 diplomats who had been dismissed from their jobs by emergency decree-laws enacted during a two-year state of emergency declared after a failed coup on July 15, 2016,

With the operations carried out in 42 cities across Turkey, the police detained 100 diplomats, bringing them to the Ankara Police Department for interrogation. While the interrogation was still ongoing, the relatives of the some of the detainees and human rights activists claimed on social media that the former diplomats were subjected to brutal torture and ill-treatment during the interrogations.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a deputy from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a renowned human rights activist, raised the issue on social media, tweeting, “There are claims of acts of severe torture including inserting a truncheon into a person’s anus on former Foreign Ministry staff who are currently under detention at the Ankara Police Department’s financial crimes unit.”

Gergerlioğlu also submitted an inquiry in parliament about the allegations of torture of the former diplomats, claiming that a special team from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had carried out the acts of torture at the Ankara Police Department.

“One of the diplomats passed out when a truncheon was inserted into his anus and was taken to a hospital, and the torture continued there. His head was banged on the wall. A medical report finding no evidence of acts of torture or maltreatment was issued, but photos prove that he was physically tortured,” according to Gergerlioğlu.

The detainees are also allegedly forced to sign depositions prepared in advance.

The investigation into the torture allegations was opened upon an official complaint filed by the Ankara Bar Association committee that had conducted an on-site visit and held interviews with six detainees.

The report found that five diplomats were tortured, saying that the torture accounts of various detainees interviewed were consistent, that they were battered, that some were stripped naked while others were stripped down to the waist, and that a truncheon was rubbed around their rectum and that rape was attempted after a lubricant was applied to their rectum.

Following what is widely known as the December 17 and 25, 2013 corruption investigations President Erdoğan designated the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members.

After the coup attempt, which he accused the movement’s US-based spiritual leader, Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding — an accusation strongly denied by the cleric — Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement, dismissing some 150,000 civil servants from state jobs and investigating almost 600,000 people, detaining or arresting half of them on trumped-up terrorism-related charges.

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) confirmed in two reports published on August 5 the continued existence of ill-treatment and torture in Turkish detention facilities.

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