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Turkey’s top court fines gov’t for torture of Kurdish party chairman in police custody

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Turkey’s top court has ruled in favor of İbrahim Halil Baran, chairman of the Kurdish Partiya Kurdistani (PAKURD), who submitted an individual application to the court in 2017 claiming that he was tortured by police in detention in southeastern Şanlıurfa province, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

Baran, who was detained on Jan. 11, 2017 and arrested 12 days later for “disseminating propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” and “insulting the president” in his speeches and social media posts, was released pending trial by a court on April 11, 2017.

After a prosecutor responded to his allegations of torture by police during the 12 days he was in detention with a decision of non-prosecution and an appeal to a higher court was also rejected, Baran submitted an individual application to the Constitutional Court through his lawyer Fırat Ayçiçek.

The top court ruled that the rights of the PAKURD chairman were violated, ordering the Turkish government to pay him TL 20,000 ($2,790) in damages. The court also reversed the decision of non-prosecution and ordered a new investigation into the torture allegations.

“I’m the head of a political party. I was subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention for 12 days and couldn’t make myself heard. I even spoke to my lawyer in the presence of the police. I was in no condition to even walk. Ten of my ribs were fractured from the torture,” Baran told DW Turkish.

When, after 12 days in detention, he told a judge what had happened and asked to be sent to a hospital, the judge declined his request and issued an order for his arrest, sending him to jail.

Baran was only able to see a doctor 35 days after his detention, DW Turkish said.

The PAKURD chairman also said eight other cases were filed against him and that his family received threats following his individual application to the Constitutional Court.

Forced to watch strip-searches, rape at Şanlıurfa Police Station

Baran claimed he witnessed strip-searches as well as incidents of rape as part of methods of torture used on detainees by police from the counterterrorism branch of the Şanlıurfa Police Department.

“Let alone strip-searches, there’s rape in Turkey’s detention centers carried out [as a method of torture] by people and with a truncheon, and they make you watch it,” Baran told DW Turkish.

After pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu brought several reports of strip-search to public attention in late 2020, dozens of women, including prominent writers and a politician, revealed that police had strip-searched them while in custody.

Some women related their experiences long after the incidents during a Turkish wave of revelations similar to the international #MeToo movement in which women described past sexual harassment.

Categorically denying the existence of strip-search in Turkey, a female AKP member had accused Gergerlioğlu of “terrorizing the parliament” with his reports about the humiliating practice.

Turkey has experienced a marked resurgence of torture and ill-treatment in custody over the past five years and especially since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for security forces.

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