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17 mistreated, 4 journalists detained, 3 prisoners died in region hit by earthquakes: report

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At least 17 people were mistreated by security officers in provinces of southern Turkey that were hit by devastating earthquakes in early February, and three inmates died in post-quake prison riots, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing a report from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).

According to the TİHV report, an individual was beaten to death in custody. Ahmet Güreşçi was allegedly killed by members of the Altınözü gendarmerie unit in Hatay province. His brother, Sabri, who was also detained and reportedly subjected to maltreatment, is still recovering.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Turkish city of Gaziantep – home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria – as people were sleeping on February 6 was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

Turkish authorities detained four journalists, two of whom were arrested, due to social media posts, according to the TİHV report, which listed rights violations in February in the region hit by the earthquakes.

Brothers Ali and İbrahim İmat, both local journalists, were arrested in February pending trial in Osmaniye, one of the provinces hit by the earthquakes in February, due to social media posts questioning the authorities over tents allegedly withheld from quake victims in the province.

Rights organizations earlier said prisoners in these provinces are facing increased mistreatment and rights abuses.

Three inmates died and at least nine were injured in the suppression of prison riots in Turkey’s Hatay and Kahramanmaraş provinces that were triggered by the massive earthquakes.

Turkish authorities investigated 575 people and 141 of them were detained in February over “provocative” social media posts following the earthquakes.

According to the report, Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), has imposed fines and broadcasting bans on three TV stations for their coverage in the aftermath of the earthquakes.

The council, which convened on February 22, imposed fines on Tele 1, Halk TV and Fox TV in addition to a five-day broadcasting ban on Tele 1 and Halk TV.

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