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Lawyers organizations call on Ankara Bar Association to publish report on torture

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Six lawyers organizations have called on the Ankara Bar Association to publish a report on allegations of torture made by detainees held at a police detention center that was drafted by lawyers from the bar’s human rights committee, who resigned in protest after the administration decided against making the findings public.

The organizations — Lawyers for Justice, Lawyers for Democracy, Progressive Lawyers Association, Lawyers in Solidarity, Lawyers for Freedom, and Societal Law — issued a statement from their social media accounts saying that torture is a crime against humanity and that it is the Ankara Bar Association’s responsibility to publish their findings to raise awareness.

“The precondition to ending torture is to reveal it and hold the perpetrators to account. The fight against torture, which is a crime against humanity, is one of the fundamental duties of lawyers’ bars,” the statement said.

According to a report by the TR724 news website last week, people who were detained due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, were subjected to torture at a police detention center in Ankara.

TR724 said 300 people have been detained in the last month in police raids across Turkey as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Some of the detainees were beaten and forced to sign false confessions while in police custody, TR724 reported, citing their families and lawyers.

After receiving complaints of torture and mistreatment, lawyers from the Ankara Bar Association’s human rights committee interviewed the detainees and compiled their findings in a report.

According to the report citing the lawyers’ findings, detainees said they were subjected to beatings, forced nudity, torture involving the use of water and threats of rape.

The report was presented to the management of the Ankara Bar Association; however, they decided not to publish the report, opting to instead file a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor’s office.

The bar association’s decision not to publish the report sparked indignation among the lawyers who had drafted it, and six lawyers on the human rights committee resigned in protest.

“The administration of the Ankara Bar Association should fulfill their duty and reveal the crime of torture by publishing the draft report and thereby living up to the struggle for human rights,” the lawyers’ organizations said.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

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