Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST) prepares reports to record and document crimes against human dignity, such as torture and ill-treatment, which have become systematic in Turkey. The report in your hand is the second part of the study, which was prepared in order to register those who were involved in this crime, their instigators, those who encouraged the crime by praising it, and those who protected the torturer public officials by abuse of power. The report aims to be a record so that torturers will one day be held to an independent legal account.
Hundreds of torture victims apply to human rights organizations in Turkey to fight for their rights every year. Still, many victims are not so eager or willing to seek their rights due to safety considerations. The loss of confidence in the independence of the judiciary is one of the important reasons for this reservation. The judiciary, which is under Erdoğan’s influence, has become unable to investigate the allegations of torture, to judge the suspected torturers and to control them. Finally, the report, titled “The Reality of Torture in Different Dimensions in Turkey as of June 26, 2021” and prepared by the İstanbul branches of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) and the Human Rights Association (İHD), stated that the prosecutors who did not investigate the torture and the judges who acquitted torture suspects ignoring victim statements and related evidence were all a part of the systematic torture.
According to the report, although receiving applications was restricted in 2020 due to measures against the pandemic, 605 people applied to TİHV on the grounds that they were exposed to torture and ill-treatment. Of the 562 victims, 283 stated that they were subjected to torture in official detention centers and 73 in police stations. In addition, 134 persons were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention and transport vehicles of law enforcement officers. 31 of the applications were made by relatives of the inmates while 12 applications came from abroad. The remaining incidents reportedly took place in buildings belonging to MİT and the Chief of Staff. One person died suspiciously while in custody. According to the findings of the İHD Documentation Unit in the report, in 2020 alone, 383 people, including 10 children, were subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment in official detention centers. This number is at least 86 in the first five months of 2021, and 1 person died suspiciously in custody.
In the aforementioned report, according to the data of the İHD Documentation Unit, the number of people who claimed to have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in unofficial places of detention and other places of detention in 2020 was 397, 28 of which were children. At least 2,980 people were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment as a result of the intervention of the security forces in the social demonstrations. Data from the TİHV Documentation Center showed that at least 2,144 people were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and 65 people were injured as a result of the intervention of law enforcement officers in actions and activities within the scope of freedom of assembly and demonstration in 2020. In the first five months of 2021, at least 2,153 people were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and 23 people were injured as a result of the intervention of law enforcement forces.
TİHV Documentation Center also makes note of Yusuf Bilge Tunç, who was kidnapped in Ankara on 8 August 2019 and has not been heard of ever since then. Likewise, former Prime Ministry Legal Counsel Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, who was forcibly abducted on 29 December 2020, was found in Sincan Prison on 13 September 2021, after being subjected to 9 months of illegal detention and interrogation with torture. According to the data of Solidarity With Others, apart from the abductions and illegal interrogations in the country, 95 Turkish nationals from 23 countries were abducted and brought to Turkey between 2016 and 2020, in violation of international law, and their statements were forcefully taken in clandestine interrogation centers under torture. It turned out that they were first handed over to the police and then put in prison after being tortured into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit.
Torture and ill-treatment in prisons
The data of the İHD Documentation Unit puts the number of prisoners claiming to have been tortured and ill-treated in prisons as 358 in 2020. The ill treatment starts even at the entrance to the prison with strip-search; and while in prison, inmates are continuously subjected to inhuman practices such as handcuffed-examination, numbering off in mornings while standing, rough beatings, arbitrary disciplinary punishments, confinement in solitary cells and arbitrarily sending to different prisons. Such cases have reached unprecedented levels in recent history. Additionally, ill-treatment practices, including but not limited to, restriction of access to health services, denial of the right to visit the prison infirmary, wearing handcuffs while being taken to the Forensic Medicine Institute, courthouse and hospital as well as the failure to solve prisoners’ health problems in a timely and effective manner are among the long-standing problems.
According to the İHD data, which was last updated on April 1, 2021, there are a total of 1,605 ill prisoners, 604 of whom are seriously ill. The same data show that at least 37 prisoners died in prisons “in suspicious incidents”, and 16 prisoners died by committing suicide in 2020. According to the findings of the TİHV Documentation Center, at least 14 prisoners died suspiciously in prisons in 2020.
The figures show that the crime of systematic torture continues in Turkey, which has kept aggravating especially after the failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016. In the next section, some acts of torture and their perpetrators and victims will be investigated.
TORTURERS REPORT – 2
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