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HRW: Detained Turkish teacher hospitalized after beating during interrogation

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A teacher in Antalya told his wife that police had beaten him so severely during interrogation that his intestines were destroyed and that he had to have surgery.

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

HRW said it had interviewed more than 40 lawyers, human rights activists, former detainees, medical personnel and forensic specialists before preparing the report.

The watchdog said Turkey’s post-coup emergency decrees facilitated torture as they removed safeguards against ill-treatment.

What follows is the full text of the eleventh abusive incident in the series published by HRW on Tuesday.


“On July 24, police in Antalya detained teacher Eyüp Birinci and his father-in-law, according to Birinci’s wife. Birinci’s wife told Human Rights Watch what happened and shared with Human Rights Watch a detailed account of her husband’s and father’s detention that she had written.

“Birinci’s wife tried to see her husband and father several times in the days following their detention without success. On two occasions the wife brought clean underwear for her husband to the police-station. On July 30, the police called her, asking her to urgently bring clean underwear again and slippers.

“On August 1, six days after his detention began, a lawyer tried to visit Birinci, but was denied access, according to Birinci’s wife. When the lawyer tried to see him again on August 2, the police told him that he was no longer there. The lawyer was able to meet with Birinci’s father-in-law, however. When the lawyer asked about the condition of other detainees, the police ended the meeting. The conversation lasted for two minutes.

“A prosecutor eventually informed the lawyer that Birinci had been taken to a hospital, but refused to say why and to which one. Birinci’s wife started calling various hospitals and eventually located her husband. When she went there, however, the police refused to let her speak to him. After having seen the prosecutor again, who now said that he had been taken to hospital because of a stomach ache, the wife went back to the hospital. She said:

‘I just stormed into my husband’s room. There was nobody around. I asked him what happened. He told me that the police had beaten him very badly, that it had destroyed his intestines and that he had had surgery. He also said that his trousers were ripped and that he needed new ones. I quickly left before the police returned.’

“The next day, the wife asked a doctor at the hospital about his condition. The doctor told her that they had operated on her husband on July 29, removing 10 centimeters of his small intestines. When the wife asked for more information and a written report the doctor referred her to the chief doctor, who eventually said that the family could not have any more information or see any of the medical documents.

“Birinci’s wife said that her husband had no prior medical problems. Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify whether the operation was necessitated by injuries from Birinci’s alleged ill-treatment.

“On August 10, Birinci’s wife, along with two other relatives, visited her father in the prison, where they were separated by glass and spoke over a telephone. According to Birinci’s wife, her father told her that he had seen the police beat her husband, that his nose was bleeding, and that they took him to the hospital several times.

“In a statement to the prosecutor on August 24, which Human Rights Watch has seen, Eyüp Birinci described in detail how when he was first detained on July 24 and taken to the Police Department of Smuggling and Organized Crime he was made to shout at the top of his voice expletives against what the Turkish government calls “FETO” (the Fetullahist terrorist organization), was beaten on the head with a rolled up newspaper, had his face hit against a cupboard until his nose bled, was punched and beaten in the face and made to sign a paper without being able to read it. He reported that he was beaten again when taken for police interrogation on July 28:

‘My eyes were blindfolded. I felt there were three or four people in the room. But it was the police chief who detained me that spoke… “Tell us what you know, what’s your business in Antalya,” he said as they stripped me naked… The police chief who detained me and whose name I don’t know began to slap me in the face and eyes…They beat me on the soles of my feet, on my stomach, then squeezed my testicles, saying things like they’d castrate me… They made me lie face down and twisted my left and right arms behind me… Then they turned me on to my back, wet my feet and began to beat them. Then they beat both arms with the baton. They wet my neck and beat me there. …They even put the baton in my mouth and rotated it. …They made me stand up and they punched me with fists. They punched my stomach for several minutes, each time telling me to stand up straight.’

“He reported that the first time he was examined by a doctor at the police station on the day he was detained, the doctor dismissed the evidence he had been beaten as “basic, not serious.” He reported being examined on subsequent days and after the interrogation on July 28 fainting and being hospitalized when the doctor identified internal bleeding.” (Turkey Purge)

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