Turkish gov’t jails 43 women for charity sale to benefit purge victims in Mersin

The Turkish government on Tuesday arrested and jailed 43 out of 80 women, including high school and university students, who were allegedly subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment last week at the hands of a group of officers at the Mersin Police Department.

According to a report by the TR724 online news website, the arrestees are accused of organizing a charity sale to benefit families victimized by an ongoing purge carried out by the Turkish government against alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The 80 women were detained last week by police officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Directorate (KOM) in Mersin province, according to a Twitter account named @Turkeydeiskence (Torture in Turkey).

The same account tweeted that the detainees were allegedly subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of a group of officers during their time in police custody. The claim has neither been confirmed nor denied by Turkish authorities.

The account tweeted that among the detainees are a mother and her 2-month-old baby who have been held in police custody for four days. Also, a 15-year old high school student has been held in detention at the juvenile branch office of the provincial police department.

The Twitter account also claimed that a lawyer representing the detainees fainted at the exit of the police department after witnessing the torture and ill treatment of their clients in police custody.

More than 17,000 women who have been jailed in an unprecedented crackdown have been subjected to torture and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear released in April 2017 by SCF revealed.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.” (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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