The Ankara Bar Association has published five reports by its human rights committee on allegations of torture made by detainees held at a police detention center that were previously censored by management and prompted the then-committee chair and several lawyers to resign, the Bold Medya news website reported on Monday.
A report by the TR724 news website in early 2022 said some 300 people who were detained as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office 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.
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. However, the management of the bar decided not to publish the report, opting to instead file a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor’s office.
The bar association’s decision sparked indignation among the lawyers who had drafted it, and six lawyers on the human rights committee resigned in protest. Then-committee chair Rıza Türmen, who represented Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) between 1998 and 2008, joined his colleagues and submitted his resignation from the bar in February.
Bold Medya on Monday reported that the bar association published five reports on allegations of torture made by people who were detained at a police detention center in Ankara between January and April of last year.
According to the reports citing the lawyers’ findings, detainees said they were forced to become informants and subjected to beatings, forced nudity, torture involving the use of water and threats of rape.
One of the detainees was quoted as saying they were taken to “interviews” in which they were psychologically pressured with insults and threats into making confessions on their first day in custody and then forced to prostrate themselves and subjected to beatings on the second.
The suspect also stated that he was forced to take off his trousers and underwear and that an officer then touched his genitals with a broom handle, adding that he was threatened with spending 25 to 30 years behind bars as well as being raped with a bottle and broom handle if he refused to confess to whatever they wanted.
The lawyers said the suspect didn’t feel comfortable talking about the torture he was subjected to and whispered during the whole interview in addition to asking them to disclose his allegations only after his detention ended since he feared he wouldn’t make it out of prison alive otherwise.
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.