Two women who were allegedly kidnapped in broad daylight in Ankara by Turkish police told the Jin News website on Thursday that the latest abductions taking place in the country resemble those carried out during the 1990s by a clandestine military organization known as JİTEM.
JİTEM, the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-terror Unit, has been accused of involvement in the torture, disappearance and execution of many Kurdish politicians and businesspeople during the 1990s, a period of bloody conflict between Turkey and Kurdish militants.
The police in Turkey continue to target voices critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), through methods of intimidation, threat and enforced disappearance, Jin News said.
Ronda Bat and Sultan Taş, members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s youth council, told Jin News they were abducted by six people carrying police IDs who called themselves “the invisibles” around 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 while they were walking on the street.
“Two cars parked near us and six people got out. They told us we were under arrest and forced us into the cars. … We started screaming ‘we are being kidnapped.’ Some shopkeepers heard us and started to gather. They [police] put us in two cars, telling the shopkeepers we were terrorists and that they were detaining us,” Bat said.
Bat went on to say that police officers asked her inside the car why she had come to Ankara and then said she needed to go back to Amed, the original Kurdish name of Diyarbakır province.
“They told me, ‘You can’t walk around here freely as you did back in Amed. Your friends have been arrested and so will you. You will all end up in jail,’ and then they let me out of the car after half an hour,” Bat said.
Bat underlined that the police in Turkey nowadays target young people from every ideology that criticizes the AKP government and therefore, what young people needed to engage in was “self-defense through solidarity and struggle.”
“The police told us they were ‘the invisibles’ that Gökhan Güneş was talking about,” Taş told Jin News.
Gökhan Güneş, a socialist who went missing in İstanbul on Jan. 20 and returned home with bruises on his face and hands nearly a week later, said in a statement that he was subjected to torture by intelligence agents who told him that they were “the invisibles.”
“We know these are JİTEM methods. We can see that gang-like groups such as the one that kidnapped us are instructed by the authorities. At this point, we can’t talk about an independent judiciary or the rule of law. We must expose the use of these [unlawful] methods in order to stop them,” Taş emphasized.
The abduction of the two women was reportedly the latest one in a series of incidents over the last month in which police officers threatened HDP members. According to the report, other members such as Hatice Aras, Ezgi Orak, Erol Çiftçi and Elif Ceylan were also threatened by people who identified themselves as police officers on Jan. 12, 13, 27 and 31, respectively.
Enforced disappearances, which were common in Turkey during the 1990s, made a reappearance following a failed coup in July 2016, according to a report recently drafted by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee in parliament.
The country’s intelligence agency has reportedly abducted dozens of people since 2016, with some 24 victims reporting, after they were found, that they were subjected to harsh torture during the time they were missing.