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UN expert says deeply concerned by rise in torture allegations in Turkey

GENEVA (27 February 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, expressed serious concerns about the rising allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in Turkish police custody since the end of his official visit to the country in December 2016.

Melzer said he was alarmed by allegations that large numbers of individuals suspected of links to the Gülenist Movement or the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party were exposed to brutal interrogation techniques aimed at extracting forced confessions or coercing detainees to incriminate others.

Reported abuse included severe beatings, electrical shocks, exposure to icy water, sleep deprivation, threats, insults and sexual assault.

The Special Rapporteur said no serious measures appeared to have been taken by the authorities to investigate these allegations or to hold perpetrators accountable.

Instead, complaints asserting torture were allegedly dismissed by the prosecutor citing a ‘state of emergency decree (Article 9 of Decree no. 667)’ which reportedly exempts public officials from criminal responsibility for acts undertaken in the context of the state of emergency.

“The human right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and non-derogable, and continues to apply in all situations of political instability or any other public emergency,” the Special Rapporteur said. No circumstances, however exceptional and well argued, can ever justify torture or any form of impunity for such abuse.

“Torture is not only a notoriously ineffective interrogation method, but it constitutes the most fundamental assault on human dignity and is invariably listed among the most serious international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Melzer said by inviting his mandate to visit the country in December 2016, soon after an attempted coup, the Government had demonstrated its commitment to its official “zero tolerance” policy on torture.

“However, the authorities’ failure to publicly condemn torture and ill-treatment, and to enforce the universal prohibition of such abuse in daily practice seems to have fostered a climate of impunity, complacency and acquiescence which gravely undermines that prohibition and, ultimately, the rule of law,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur also said he remained keen to engage in a “direct and constructive dialogue” with the Turkish authorities to achieve full implementation of the prohibition on torture and ill-treatment.

Source:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22718&LangID=E

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At Least 3 Victims Drowned While Trying to Cross Meriç/Evros River

Victims of Erdogan’s regime are increasing every day, as there has not been an effective mechanism to prevent him. On February 13, Turkish media reported that Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Organization (AFAD) found the bodies of three, including two children, near the Border between Turkey and Greece.

Eight Turkish nationals, including three children, two women, and three men tried to get to Greece by crossing the Meriç/Evros river using a rubber boat. The rubber boat was capsized, and two children, estimated to be around 11 and 3, and their mother drowned. The names of the dead were identified as Ayşe Söyler Abdurrezzak, and her children Abdulkadir Enes Abdurrezzak (11) and Halil Munir Abdurrezzak (3). The rest of the people that were in the same boat are missing. Ayşe Söyler Abdurrezzak, a 37-year-old teacher, and her husband were dismissed from their job due to crackdowns after the failed coup attempt.

Doğan family was also accompanying the Abdurrezzak family. The members of the family, Fahreddin Doğan, his wife Asli Doğan and their 2.5-year-old son, Ibrahim Selim Doğan are still missing.

Thousands of Turkish families have migrated to Greece from Turkey in recent year. Most of these families are sympathizers of the Gulen Movement. The Turkish government accuses the movement of being behind the 2016 failed-coup attempt. The movement denies alleged involvement.

Since the alleged coup attempt, which President Erdogan defined as a blessing from God, Turkish democracy, and justice have continuously deteriorated every day. More than 150,000 people have been detained and nearly 60,000 people, including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, and people from different backgrounds have been put in pre-trial detention.

In November 2017, Hüseyin Maden, a 40-year-old teacher, who was also dismissed in the crackdown after the failed coup attempt, drowned along with his wife and three children while trying to reach Greek island of Lesvos.

We, as the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, are calling all the international and non-governmental human rights organizations to raise awareness about the drowned Abdurrezzak family and also to take immediate action as regards the problems in Turkey to prevent other families and children from suffering as such. We hope the situation in Turkey will get better for those in Turkey and abroad who are oppressed by the ruling government of Turkey.

Download statement as a PDF: AST_Statement-Abdurrezzak-Family

Download flyer on Abdurrezzak family as a PDF: AST_Flyer_Abdurrezzak family

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Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay should be immediately released

Amnesty International Orange County:

On January 11, 2018, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled in a criminal case that Mehmet Altan and fellow journalist Sahin Alpay’s rights were being violated by pre-trial detention and ruled that they should be released, nut the 27th High Criminal Court in Istanbul declined to implement the Constitutional Court decision.

Following the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, and the imposition of a state of emergency, over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree. There are now at least 148 writers, journalists, and media workers in prison, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

Prof. Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay are only two of the hundreds of victims of this horrific violation of democratic values and principles within Turkey.

Mehmet Altan, the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University since 1986, was also a journalist working in the daily Sabah (1987-2006) and worked as an editor-in-chief in the daily Star until 2012. He has been dismissed from his newspaper because of the government’s pressures on free media.

Sahin Alpay, faculty in Bahcesehir University since 2001, was arrested in 2016. He worked as a writer and editor for Cumhuriyet, Sabah, and Milliyet Newspapers. He directed the “Intellectual Perspective” a weekly program at Turkish CNN and he was a columnist at the now closed-down Zaman Newspaper. He also hosted a program, which aired on the now closed-down Mehtap TV channel.

In September 2016, Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay were detained as part of a wave of arrests of thinkers and writers following the failed July 2016 coup attempt. Arrested for allegedly giving “subliminal messages” to announce the coup on a television roundtable discussion show, Mr. Altan was charged with attempting to overthrow the “constitutional order”, “interfering with the work of the national assembly”, and “interfering with the work of the government” through violence or force.

Amnesty Orange County call the authorities in Turkey to respect and implement the ruling of the Turkish Constitutional Court for Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay to be released immediately alongside all the other journalists and writers, including Mehmet Altan’s brother Ahmet Altan who is also among the incarcerated writers and journalists.

We urge everyone to take action. Please sign the petition linked below: https://www.change.org/p/turkey-mehmet-altan-and-sahin-alpay-should-be-immediately-released?recruiter=841476427&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

This petition will be delivered to:
Turkey Consulate of Turkey in Los Angeles
Embassy of Turkey, Washington, D.C.
TURKEY MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

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