Purged teacher tells of torture, sexual abuse in police detention

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Photo by Uriel Soberanes (Unsplash)

A teacher who was removed from his job and subsequently arrested due to his alleged links to the Gülen  movement in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016 has said he was subjected to various forms of torture and sexual abuse while he was in police custody, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Tuesday.

The former teacher of 16 years, identified only by his initials as İ.K., was detained in August 2016 shortly after the failed coup. He was accused of ties to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating the coup attempt. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.

The ordeal of İ.K., who was released from jail some time later, made its way into a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) and was brought to parliament’s agenda by opposition deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu,  who is also a human rights activist.

İ.K. said during the time he was held in police custody in northwestern Turkey’s Kocaeli province, police officers made him and other detainees listen to blaring nationalist songs so that they were unable to sleep.

“They were speaking loudly, insulting us and behaving us as if we were traitors,” he said.

During his interrogation by police officers, İ.K. said he wanted his lawyer to accompany him but that his request was denied and the police officers made fun of him due to his request for his lawyer.

In one instance İ.K. said a police officer, presumably from the intelligence unit of the police force, told him to tell what he knew. When İ.K. said he had nothing to tell and knew nothing about the coup attempt, the police officer reminded him of his four-year-old daughter, saying: “Who will care for her when you are in prison? She will be on the streets.” He said the police officer also said similar things about his wife.

When İ.K. took a few seconds to breathe during his interrogation because he was extremely tired, he said the police officers began to commit acts of torture on him upon an order from a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official who was in the interrogation room.

“They made me experience fear and pain that I had never before experienced. I very much wanted to die. When I did not give the answers they wanted, one of the police officers threatened to throw me from the window of the fourth floor of the building. He said he would say I fell while trying to escape.”

İ.K. said he was also subjected to sexual abuse by the police officers upon the order of the MİT official, who told the police officers to take off his clothes including his underwear.

“One of the police officers pressed a club or something like that on my anus. I was shocked when I felt the coldness of that object. In the meantime, another police officer was squeezing my testicles from the front based on the order he received. If only my heart stopped and I had died,” said İ.K.

A medical assessment drafted by the TİHV suggests that not only İ.K. but also his children were psychologically affected by the former teacher’s ordeal under detention.

In a parliamentary question directed to Vice President Fuat Oktay, Gergerlioğlu asked whether an investigation had been launched into the torture allegations raised by İ.K. as well as the police officers who were allegedly involved in the acts of torture.

The cases of torture and ill treatment increased significantly after the failed coup in Turkey. There have been deaths in prisons that are suspected of having been caused by acts of torture and maltreatment.

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