Minors detained on alleged Gülen links face torture by strappado in Çanakkale: report

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Eighty-six people detained in an operation targeting the Gülen movement in the western Turkish province of Çanakkale on May 21, among them minors, have been interrogated for days and subjected to torture by strappado, battery and threats of rape, the Bold Medya news website reported on Saturday.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, a claim strongly denied by the movement, whose real or alleged followers have been subjected to an unprecedented crackdown for several years.

On the orders of the Çanakkale Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Turkish police on May 21 detained 86 people in police raids across 14 provinces due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement and on various wild accusations such as deliberately spreading COVID-19.

According to the report by Bold Medya, citing journalist Hasan Cücük, who posted the allegations on Twitter, 20 of the initial 86 are still being held at the Çanakkale Police Department and all detainees have been battered, and two of them have been stripped naked and threatened with rape with a baton.

Cücük claims adults and minors alike have been subjected to torture by strappado.

The police allegedly force the detainees, aged between 15-70, to sign confessions and name others with links to the Gülen movement.

“Police have systematically resorted to violence from the first moment of detention. They pressured people into invoking the effective remorse law. The ones who were brought from other provinces were battered and threatened with [rape with] a baton throughout the trip. On the first day of detention, all detainees suffered a beating,” Cücük tweeted, and added: “As of now, violence, beatings and threats are ongoing. People taken from the detention rooms return to their cells battered after a couple of hours. They are being hung by their wrists and held like that for hours.”

Cücük did not name his sources but claimed he had verified the allegations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup.

The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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