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Man detained for links to PKK tortured at İstanbul police headquarters, ÖHD claims

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The Association for the Freedom of Lawyers (ÖHD) in a press statement said Mehdi Mıhçı, who was detained for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was subjected to torture at İstanbul police headquarters, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Duvar news website.

The PKK has been leading an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Mıhçı was detained on Sunday and according to ÖHD lawyers he was repeatedly beaten, threatened and raped with a baton over the four days. Mıhçı has started a hunger strike in protest of the torture.

Vedat Çağırtekin, from the ÖHD, said his client had been subjected to inhumane treatment. “During our meeting, Mehdi had difficulties speaking. We realized he was sleep deprived because he kept nodding off, he was afraid and jumpy, and had difficulties moving from the injuries he sustained,” said Çağırtekin.

When asked where he had been hurt the most, Mıhçı pointed to his abdomen and groin.

Çağırtekin called on the Ministry of Justice to investigate these claims of torture and added that they would file a complaint against the perpetrators.

Mıhçı’s detention had been announced by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Twitter. According to Soylu, Mıhçı had entered Turkey through Iran to organize terrorist activities.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in a previous statement had said the Turkish government did not allow torture and mistreatment in prisons, claiming it had one of the best penal systems in the world.

However, opposition lawmakers have pointed out that the minister has failed to reply to 175 parliamentary questions on cases in Turkish prisons since his appointment and accused him of lying.

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.

An annual report by Amnesty International (AI) on the state of human rights in the world has revealed that serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were made in Turkey last year.

According to a report drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, there were 2,694 deaths and 3,145 incidents of torture or maltreatment in Turkey in 2021, with 925 of them taking place in prisons.

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