Turkish woman says police damaged property, frightened their children during house raid

A women identified only as Semiha tweeted on Tuesday night that police had raided her home to detain her husband, damaging their personal belongings and frightening their children.

Semiha’s husband was one of 300 people who were detained in the last two weeks for alleged links to the Gülen movement in police raids across Turkey as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“A police office name Rauf — or Raif — rushed around the house and stepped on my children’s iPads with his boots, breaking them,” Semiha said. “My children’s state of mind has deteriorated ever since they witnessed the raid.”

Semiha added that she had not heard from her husband since he was detained and feared for his safety as claims of torture in an Ankara police detention center emerged.

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has called on Turkish authorities to investigate claims of mistreatment and torture at the Ankara police detention center.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.

There have been several reports of police violence during house raids. Officers used their dogs to terrify two Kurdish boys during a raid on their home in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in October 2020.

HDP member Meryem Aşkara claimed she was beaten and threatened by special forces police who raided her house in southeastern Şırnak province in December 2020.

A disabled woman was pinned to the ground by police who entered her home by breaking down the door in a raid in January 2021 while searching for students who had participated in protests at Boğaziçi University.

İsmail and Serhat Yolgın were beaten by narcotics police in Mersin province who allegedly raided their house by mistake in December 2021.

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