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Former military cadets severely beaten by guards in Turkey’s Silivri Prison

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Former military cadets who are incarcerated in İstanbul’s notorious Silivri Prison for allegedly participating in an abortive putsch in Turkey in July 2016 were severely beaten by prison guards on Thursday, the Kronos news website reported on Thursday.

The incident was revealed on social media by Melek Çetinkaya, the mother of another former military cadet also behind bars, who said her daughter, who had visited the prison Thursday, told her she heard the prison guards had conducted a search of a prison cell where they scattered the inmates’ belongings and brutally beat two former military cadets.

“Today was visitation day for our boys, and my daughter had gone for the visit. She said she was told that [the prison guards] conducted a search of one of the cells that day. They took two boys outside the cell, brutally beating them,” Çetinkaya said in a video attached to her tweet on Thursday. 

A total of 259 military cadets were detained on coup charges on July 16, 2016 and were arrested four days later. The cadets were indicted a year after they were put in pretrial detention, and their trial was concluded in May 2018.

One hundred seventy-eight of the cadets were given life sentences on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament by use of force as well as membership in a terrorist organization.

A tearful Çetinkaya said in the video that the former military cadets have been oppressed for six years, asking: “Isn’t it enough yet? Aren’t you done with your hatred?”

“They took the two former cadets to another cell after beating them. … And they refused to inform their families where they were taken. Where are their human rights?” Çetinkaya said. 

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu posted a tweet about the incident addressing the Justice Ministry and Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül.

“What is this suffering of former military cadets and their parents at the hands of the Justice Ministry and Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül? They have turned prisons into dungeons! What is this lack of order and this oppression?” he tweeted.

The cadets say they didn’t know a coup attempt was underway and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

The military coup attempt killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the faith-based Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

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