A former colonel has tweeted a photo of soldiers in a mosque with apparent signs of maltreatment and torture taken shortly after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the Bold Medya news website reported on Thursday.
The photo, posted by former colonel Hüseyin Demirtaş, quickly went viral. Demirtaş is one of the thousands officers who were expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the aftermath of the failed coup. He currently lives in exile.
There have been widespread claims that soldiers who were taken to police centers, sports facilities and mosques after the coup was suppressed were subject to torture and ill-treatment. The photo shared by Demirtaş is apparent confirmation of the allegations.
A soldier with swollen eyes, face covered in blood and handcuffed from behind is seen in the photo, which includes other handcuffed soldiers facing the wall.
Demirtaş also tweeted questions to Ali Erbaş and Mehmet Görmez, the current and former heads of Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), including “Was this soldier tortured inside or outside the mosque? Does your religion allow you to take photos of torture in your mosques and expose them? Does your religion condone torture?”
Demirtaş and former major Hacer Çaylak spoke to journalist Ahmet Nesin about a conspiracy against the Turkish Armed Forces that had been set in motion on July 15, 2016.
On the fifth anniversary of the failed coup, alternative narratives and revelations dominated the country’s agenda, further challenging the official rhetoric that the coup attempt was masterminded by the faith-based Gülen movement.
Many in Turkey believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knew of the coup attempt or was part of the group that plotted it as he wanted a pretext to launch a crackdown on the Gülen movement, inspired by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, as well as all his critics to consolidate his one-man rule.
The Turkish government labels the movement as a terrorist organization and accuses Gülen and his followers of masterminding the attempted coup.
Although both Gülen and the members of his group strongly deny any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activities, Turkish prosecutors have investigated 622,646 people and detained 301,932, while jailing 96,000 others due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup, according to the latest official data, as part of a massive purge launched under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
Erdoğan has been targeting the movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.