Victim reveals systematic torture in detention camp 100 meter away from Ankara Courthouse

A victim, who was detained over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, has identified the location of a secret detention facility in Ankara that was used by Turkish government authorities to practice both verbal and physical tortures on detainees in a 14-minute video released on Saturday. Tortures have reportedly included threats to kill, rape, strap and spray pressurized ice cold water.

The video of an interview with a detainee by exiled journalist Cevheri Güven, who used to be the editor-in-chief of closed Nokta newsweekly in Turkey,  contains maps locating the detention facility (a basketball court), accounts and sketches of torture techniques described by the victim. The  victim has said numerous detainees were subjected to severe violence and systematic torture under custody at the facility.

According to the revelations of the victim, the facility is a basketball court converted into a detention center in Ankara and located just 100 meters away from Ankara Courthouse. The victim has claimed that the facility has been runing by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) of Turkey.

“Hundreds of people were remanded in custody for weeks. They forced us to sleep on only our right-side constantly. There was only one toilet and two bathrooms for 160 people. We could only have water for two hours to shower. So we have to wait for days to take shower,” told the detainee  who keeps his name anonymous during the interview.

The torture victim has also said that he was questioned 11 times, but did not have a lawyer during these interrogations. “When I was first detained, most of the detainees who were there were staff officers but slowly civilians took their places.  Engineers, doctors, teachers… Those who did not speak the way the officials wanted were taken to the third floor and exposed to torture. They stripped us naked and tied us to chairs, sprayed pressurized water. They constantly washed us from head to toe with ice cold water. Speaking was forbidden. I asked a man who was heavily crying in the bathroom line: ‘What happened?’ He replied: ‘They raped me with a baton.’”

When asked “Did conditions get better or worse when you were taken into custody for the second time?” The torture victim has replied that “The second time I was taken into custody circumstances became more serious. We were strictly forbidden to speak. Doctors were afraid of writing reports documenting the tortures and maltreatments. One doctor did manage to write a report and they immediately assigned him somewhere else. For those under the custody they fixed doctor reports saying detainees bear no sign of physical assaults.”

Journalist Güven has stated that this sporting hall which they have revealed is just one of many other unofficial torture centers and calls human rights organizations for duty.

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 striking study by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) in June has revealed.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch AKP government along with Turkey’s 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’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.

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