UN body asks Turkey to compensate businessman arrested, tortured in post-coup crackdown

Rebii Görgeç

The United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), which works under UN Human Rights Council, has called on Turkish government to compensate a businessman who spent some 3 months in prison over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Accused of giving financial support to the Gülen movement, the 57-year-old businessman Rebii Metin Görgeç was detained along with his wife Dilek Görgeç during a police raid at 05:00 am in the morning of August 16, 2016. After 9 days under detention, the court arrested the businessman while releasing his wife Dilek Görgeç on judicial control.

“Their children spent nine days sleeping in their car outside the police station,” WGAD noted adding that Görgeç’s assets were also seized after a while.

WGAD said in a statement on June 8, 2017 that Görgeç was deprived of his right to fair trial, to notify his family of his whereabouts, to be informed of charges at the time of the arrest, to be brought promptly before a judge, to be treated with humanity and respect during detention, be treated in accordance with their status as not convicted; that he was denied medication and treatment for his very serious health conditions, and meaningful assistance by a lawyer.

Görgeç is also reported to have been tortured while in jail. “The Working Group is particularly concerned about the allegations of torture and ill-treatment made by the source, which have not been challenged by the Government of Turkey. …The Working Group will refer the present case to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, for further consideration.”

WGAD said Turkish government was requested on January 12, 2017 to answer the allegations of violations by March 13, 2017. While the government asked an extension in the deadline on March 22,  2017, WGAD declined the request noting that such request came nine days after the expiry of the original deadline and contained no compelling reasons that would justify granting such an extension.

Moreover, it was reported that his wife Dilek Görgeç was approached by two different individuals to pay a bribe of TL 100,000 Turkish liras [$34,000] to get her husband out of jail. Even though she refused to pay any bribes to anyone, Görgeç had in fact been released on November 26, 2016.

“The deprivation of liberty of Rebii Metin Görgeç, being in contravention of articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of articles 9, 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is arbitrary,” WGAD said.

“Consequent upon the opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government of Turkey to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Görgeç without delay

“The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Görgeç an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”

WGAD also requested both parties to let it know whether their recommendations were taken into consideration, whether compensation has been made to Görgeç, and whether an investigation has been conducted to the abovementioned violations.

International and national human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have documented several cases of maltreatment including torture, sexual and physical violence, and harassment in Turkish prisons and detention centers.

The torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centers and prisons have become a norm rather than an exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country, a study by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) earlier this month has revealed.

On December 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer talked about an environment conducive to torture following a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. He noted that Turkey is not following up on investigating torture allegations. Melzer’s visit, the first by a UN torture expert to Turkey since 1998, came a month after US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Turkish police of torturing detainees.

On Oct. 27, 2016, in a 43-page report titled “A Blank Check: Turkey’s Post-Coup Suspension of Safeguards Against Torture,” HRW documented 13 specific abuse incidents concerning Turkey’s post-coup detainees. The alleged abuse cases ranged from the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation to severe beatings, sexual abuse and the threat of rape.

Human rights group Amnesty International reported on July 24, 2016 that it had received credible evidence of detainees in Turkey being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since a failed coup on July 15.

Turkey survived a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President 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 participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) June 23, 2017

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