Court arrests 19 university students over Gülen links amid torture claims: report

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A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of 19 university students on charges of membership in the Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the students were accused of involvement in efforts of the Gülen movement to reorganize in Turkey.

Turkish police on Feb. 28 detained 59 youths as part of an investigation into the movement.

The remaining 40 students were released pending trial.

Lawyers and family members of the students told the Bold Medya news website that the detained students were kept in police custody at the Ankara Police Department for days, where they were subjected to humiliation and torture.

The police officers interrogating the students, who were still minors when the coup attempt took place, reportedly told them, “If only a war had broken out on July 15 and we had killed all of you.”

The students in detention were both male and female. Contrary to legal procedure, the students were interrogated three times in a day, and their interrogation sometimes lasted until the early hours of the morning. The female students who were handcuffed from behind were punched by male police officers on their backs, shoulders and bellies, according to Bold Medya, which based its report on the records of the Ankara Bar Association.

The male students were forced to undress, had plastic bags put over their heads and were punched in the head and beaten.

All these acts of torture were perpetrated by police officers who didn’t reveal their identity and in rooms lacking security cameras, according to Bold Medya.

The students were reportedly asked questions about the new organization efforts of the Gülen movement.

Some of the students’ parents have been removed from their jobs or jailed due to alleged Gülen links.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 130,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others are still in jail and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.

In the aftermath of the coup attempt, there have been widespread claims about acts of torture in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers that have so far gone uninvestigated.

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