Woman’s hair ripped from scalp by police while under detention

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Bergül Varan

Bergül Varan, one of 14 individuals who were detained by police during a police raid on the Okmeydanı İdil Culture Center in İstanbul on May 30, has said she and her friends were subjected to heavy acts of torture and her hair was ripped from her scalp by police officers while under detention.

The 14 individuals, including members of the leftist band Grup Yorum, who were detained on May 30 were referred to court on Tuesday. The court ruled for the arrest of four while 10 others were released.

Varan is among those released.

The Halkın Law Office said in a statement from its Twitter account on Tuesday that the detainees were subjected to maltreatment while they were under police custody while it shared a photo of Varan showing her hair ripped from her head.

Speaking to the artigerçek news website on Tuesday, Varan said she and her friends were subjected to heavy torture while they were under detention.

“They made us get in a riot police vehicle after they raided the culture center. They made us wait there for two to three hours. Act of torture began there. We were subjected to heavy torture inside the vehicle. They were prepared to commit such acts. It was like they followed a special method while pulling out my hair. They held my hair, twisted it and ripped it from my scalp. They were dancing with the bunch of hair in their hands while Ottoman janissary music [mehter] was playing the background,” Varan said.

The woman said she was kept under police detention for eight days until the scar on her head healed, adding that her other friends were also subjected to heavy torture while under detention.

“They committed acts of torture saying, ‘Why did you raise your head?’ and ‘Why did you look above?’ A male friend of mine passed out after he was constantly hit on the back of his neck. One of our friends’ eardrums was burst by the police. … We were kept at the anti-terrorism unit so that our injuries heal,” Varan said.

In the meantime, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş on Wednesday took Varan’s case to Parliament’s agenda by submitting a parliamentary motion meant for Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım about the treatment faced by the woman.

Also showing Varan’s pictures to the press members, Yarkadaş said: “The government thinks the only way for it to stay in power is to have people tortured. The police are being encouraged to commit acts of torture.”

In a summary of its latest study, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) said on Tuesday that torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhumane and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centers and prisons has become the norm rather than the exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in Turkey.

The report details 29 cases of torture including rape, sexual abuse, severe beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, the application of cold pressurized water, deprivation of food and water and threats to kill and rape. Some of the torture allegations were made by the victims at the first hearing in their trial or during arraignment, the first public opportunity to raise their cases in the courtroom. Many were documented by lawyers and family members of the victims.

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