The terrible accounts of the torture of people in police custody at an unofficial detention site in Turkey, related by multiple victims in court hearings, reveal how the religious and ideological conviction of the Turkish regime nurtures a dangerous jihadist, xenophobic mindset in the country’s main law enforcement agency, Nordic Monitor reported.
“I found it quite bizarre to hear the mindset that held, ‘You are prisoners of war, your possessions are our spoils, your wives, your daughters are also our wives, remove your [wedding] rings,’ because these are statements of the ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] terrorist organization,” said Mehmet Sezgin, a 33-year-old first lieutenant who testified in court on December 12, 2017, revealing brutal torture practices at an Ankara Police Department sports hall that was turned into a makeshift detention site in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.
Sezgin had worked in the intelligence section of the Gendarmerie General Command in Ankara, tracking jihadists including ISIS and al-Qaeda militants for years. Yet he was unlawfully detained with no charges, held at an unofficial site for days, tortured and subjected to the ISIS narrative of using women and girls as sex slaves in conflict. He is one of many who experienced the terrible ordeal while in police custody.
The victim statements, corroborated by rare medical reports and photographic evidence, have uncovered how the police officers who systematically tortured detainees often used the narrative employed by ISIS terrorists as justification for inflicting physical and psychological pain on their victims. The recollection of torture and abuse from dozens of victims at the site have also confirmed a growing worry that anti-Semitic and extreme nationalist views, encouraged by senior leadership, took a toll on the 300,000-strong police force in Turkey. Anti-Armenian and anti-Greek slurs were often used by the police in an attempt to vilify and demonize detainees.
It appears the jihadist ideology, promoted by the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, helped torturers detach themselves from the reality of seeing their victims as human. In one case a senior general was exposed naked for everybody to see whether he was circumcised, while police were hurling anti-Armenian slurs. Strong anti-Semitic hate speech was directed toward the detainees, with the police often insulting them as ‘the seeds of Jews and bitches.”
During their abusive treatment of detainees, torturers often described the wives, sisters and children of detainees as war spoils. The police threatened victims with the rape and sexual abuse of their wives, sisters and daughters. In one case a female lieutenant was sexually harassed in front of hundreds of naked men and presented as an example of what the police intended to do with the wives and daughters of the detainees.
“Hearing such statements that described the wives and daughters of the detainees as the spoils of war like ISIS does hurt me more than the murder threats I received from many officers who were assigned to work at the detention site,” Sezgin told the judges as he continued to relate what he experienced at the torture site, according to the transcript of the court hearing. For nine days, he was tortured, beaten and abused by police officers who took turns in shifts to continue to inflict severe pain on detainees who were stripped to their underwear, deprived of food and water, and denied medical treatment for their injuries for days.
Police abuse even continued in the courthouse when they were waiting for their arraignment after days of torture. If they did not repeat false statements they were forced to sign under torture at the site and complained about the police practices, they were threatened with more severe torture after the hearing. Several police officers who abused them at the detention site were also present in the courtroom, putting more pressure on the victims to continue lying. According to Sezgin, the police kept shouting at them in the hall of the courthouse, saying: “You are in our hands now. We will kill you, you will all die. Your spouse, your assets are our [war] spoils.” There were bar-appointed lawyers present when the police leveled such vile slurs, but they were also terrified of saying anything to the police, he said.
Sezgin was one of many unsuspecting officers who were detained en masse in Turkey’s false flag coup attempt on July 15, 2016, which was orchestrated by President Erdoğan and his intelligence and military chiefs to transform the parliamentary democracy in Turkey into an authoritarian regime. He was taken into police custody with complete disregard for the protections under due process and fair trial provisions. As he was being detained by the police at the Gendarmerie General Command headquarters where he used to work, he thought he would be killed because his colleague, Capt. Yasin Özdemir, had been shot to death by a police sniper after he had given himself up, had no firearms on him and his hands were in the air.