Two Iranian smugglers were allegedly subjected to abuse and torture at an army post on the Iranian border in the Turkish province of Van, the TR7/24 news website reported.
The two men, Hasan Kecelanlu and Behnam Semedi, were held at a police station in a border village where they were allegedly beaten, attacked with knives and tortured with cold water. Kecelanlu died, allegedly as a result of the torture, and Semedi is currently in intensive care.
The allegations were made by Rojda Oğuz, an independent journalist working in the region who shared photographs of the tortured men on Twitter. The images quickly circulated on social media, causing a general outcry.
Van Çaldıran Beydoğan Karakolu İranlı Kolberler Hasan KEÇELANLU'nun ölümü ve Behnam SEMEDİ'nin yoğun bakımda olmasından sorumlu tutuluyor. iddia büyük, soğuk suyla işkence, makata bıçak sokma, kürek ve sopalarla dövme. İçişleri bakanlığından açıklama yok.. pic.twitter.com/kbUfHhOad8
— Rojda Oğuz (@rojdaoguz) April 19, 2021
The smugglers, locally known as kolbars, make their living carrying goods across the border. Their loads include cigarettes, mobile phones, clothing, tea and sometimes alcohol. The smugglers travel in the mountainous terrain between Turkey and Iran to ply their trade.
There have been allegations that smugglers were tortured in the region before. Khales Arsan, a migrant laborer from Afghanistan who had crossed into Turkey from the Iranian city of Maku, disappeared on July 19, 2020 for several days.
Arsan later claimed he was tortured at a border post for three days.
Claiming that soldiers opened fire on them while they were trying to cross the border, Arsan added, “My four friends ran away, but because I was tired and unable to escape, I got caught.”
According to Arsan, there were 19 migrants at the border post. “I told them I was from Afghanistan. A commander with six soldiers beat us with bats, hammers and iron bars at the border post. They would beat us one by one. The beatings were so harsh that the floor was covered with blood. They would take a break and then pick another one of us to beat. They tortured us for three days like this. Many had their arms, legs or heads broken,” he said.