Medeni Arifoglu was one of the best-known businessmen in Turkey’s eastern province of Bingöl. He was awarded in 2012 by the then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his contributions to the city’s economy. He was also a financial consultant. Turkish authorities froze all his assets in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016 and sent him to prison. He faced violation of his rights in prison even when his appendix burst.
He was not allowed to see a doctor for three weeks. He told his wife how he banged on the door and crawled to the infirmary while shouting, “I am dying” to get help.
Arifoğlu had already had health problems when he was jailed due to liver transplantation he had undergone before prison. The violations that he suffered in prison grew more intense after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in July 2018. He was facing “exceptional cruelty” as pro-Kurdish MP and human right defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said. He shuttled back and forth between Malatya (a south-eastern province) and the prison of Adana due to the lack of patient room for inmates. One day his condition took a turn for the worse, and he refused all treatments by saying, “Leave me be, I want to die.”
Arifoğlu, a father of three, was released in March 2019 from prison after great efforts by Gergerlioğlu and his wife, but there was nothing left to do. Businessman Arifoğlu passed away on January 25, 2020. His wife Nuran Arifoğlu said in an exclusive interview with Bold news, “My husband was released but, they put him on a path leading to death. They gave us a funeral. He died in suffering”.
Arifoğlu was arrested two times and sentenced to 7 years and six months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. His case was before an appeal court.
Here is his wife’s account of events when she took care of him for 35 days under the surveillance of four soldiers, one commander, and one warden:
“He underwent transplantation of liver in 2012”
“My husband was taken into custody on July 25, 2016, and put in the prison of Bingöl three days later. They transferred him to the prison of Malatya 20 days after. Then, his life in prison got worse. They made life miserable for him in prison. They threw him into a prison cell and did not let him go to the hospital, and he returned from the edge of death many
times. He suffered from several health problems during his time in the Malatya prison. He started having health problems stemming from liver transplantation he had in 2012. He was released two and a half months later but re-arrested three and half months after his release. He suffered seizures, extreme loss of weight, exhaustion. He could barely show up for prison visits. He was always sick.”
“The doctor said he faces a risk of organ loss”
“I submitted applications to many authorities because of his health condition. I sought a lot of help. Because I knew that my husband could not survive with those health problems. He was transferred to Turgut Özal Hospital in Malatya. The doctor who performed the liver transplantation surgery said he would lose his liver if he remains in prison.
“We learned that he was hospitalized when we went to prison visit. We rushed to the hospital, but we couldn’t see him. I’ve seen some of Gergerlioglu’s pieces of writings. I wrote to him, and he returned quickly. He voiced our situation in parliament. MP from Batman province Mehmet Ali Alsan also addressed it in the parliament.”
“He was taking 19 pills in a day”
“My husband was supposed to take 19 pills a day. He had taken 17 pills initially, and then, he started taking two anti-depressants. He said his condition was heading for worse. He was taken back to prison after having stayed in intensive care for 21 days. Prison turned into a nightmare for him. He could no longer go out for a walk and barely made it to prison visits. It continued like this for long.
“They took him to a hospital in July 2018, and a five cm-tumor was spotted in his kidney. But they did not inform him about it. He kept saying he could not sleep due to intense pain. We were helpless. We had no one but Gergerlioğlu to ask for help. He did whatever he could do. When he was retaken to hospital in November 2018, they said the tumor reached a size of 8 cm.”
“Tumour became 14 cm in five days”
“We were told that they would take him to Balcalı hospital in Adana for kidney surgery. We did not want him to be taken there, but we were relieved a bit in thinking that he would get better after surgery. The doctor in Balcalı hospital said he could not operate due to the lack
of patient room special for inmates. I traveled between Malatya and Adana to see him. I found his condition to get worse in each visit. He was feeling very cold. He put on a goose-down jacket. He said he was freezing and sleeping with it. I couldn’t convince anyone that he could no longer live under these conditions. 50 days passed like this.”
“Leave me alone; I want to die”
“They took him back to prison. He was saying, ‘I want no longer to live, leave me alone, I do not want treatment. Because you are not sincere in treatment. If you care for me, then take me to the hospital.’ He could not take the risk of going again to the hospital for nothing because they did not assure him of receiving treatment. We learned that my husband was
brought back to Malatya since he refused treatments in Adana.”
Cancer blew up a bone in his neck
“We became happy when he returned to Malatya. Since Turgut Özal medical center was going to perform the surgery and it was where he had been operated before. But they made him wait for 20 days. He was taken a few times to emergency to ease his pain with painkillers but, cancer developed metastases. It blew a bone up in his neck, his arm could no longer function, and he couldn’t walk. He was in terrible condition, in other words. His appearance took a gut-wrenching turn.
He was put in hospital after great efforts. Tumors in his neck were removed; however, it was too late for his kidney. Tumors spread to main arteries, and doctors said he might not wake up if they operate on him. So, they refused the operation. His other organs were also targeted by the cancer cell. All this happened in 6-7 months. I took care of him for 35 days, along with four soldiers, one commander and one
warden I went to see the prosecutor after the operation on his neck. I asked for permission to tend him in the hospital. I said, please do not consider my request too much; let me be at his bedside. The prosecutor accepted my request. I was trying to take care of him all day long
in the presence of four soldiers, one commander, and warden.
“Although the Institute of Forensic Sciences had refused all our previous requests as saying, “There was no issue for him to stay in prison,” it granted this time a delay of execution for six months. But it was already too late. There was no use in releasing him at this point. When a tumor in his neck was removed, it spread to his brain and throughout the body.”
“He had longed for having a conversation with his kids”
“We couldn’t see any smile on his face after his release. All he wished for was talking with his kids. But he never could do it. He was praying for being able to live 2-3 years more to do something for his kids. This happened neither. He knew he was going to die. He had some wishes and desires. But it was all over. It was too late for my husband; arrangements should be put in place for other sick inmates.
“The reason I am voicing our victimhood is that there are 1334 sick prisoners, pregnant mothers, and babies behind bars, as I know. Those sick inmates could not survive prison under those conditions. I saw myself how my husband wasted away in three years. I watched how his eyes faded away, and his death came closer every week. There are so few patients surviving cancer, and this is only possible with high motivation and spirit. This is not possible in prison. It was too late for my husband, they released him too late, and justice for his death is left for the afterlife. For God’s sake, some arrangements must be made for other sick prisoners.”
Nuran Arifoğlu described his husband’s first times in prison when his appendix burst, his last days, his funeral and her kids on our first phone conversations:
“He was kept waiting for three weeks when his appendix burst. He was poisoned, but nothing happened due to the antibiotics he took. He told me later on, “Nuran; they saw me crawling on cameras. I went upstairs to the infirmary by crawling and told them I was dying”. They scolded him for banging on the door. They took him to a hospital, and my
husband was put in the intensive care unit right away. They did not let me wait at the door of the unit, things that others are allowed to do have become a crime for me.”
“Those calling him traitor came to his funeral”
“I was leaving his patient room together with the soldiers at night. His time in intensive care was the most difficult for us. One day when I was sitting next to his bed, I heard the commander saying they would discharge him from the hospital. It drove me crazy. They made the doctor discharge him. I started yelling, and I said I wasn’t going to let my husband be discharged, even you put a bullet in my head. I have pictures of him showing which condition he was in when they discharged him.
“Chemotherapies did not work afterward. We heard about a smart drug and went to Hacettepe University. However, they couldn’t use it on my husband because of his liver transplantation history. He was given another chemotherapy treatment, but he passed away before completing the procedure. We were at Elazığ University hospital for his last five days. We were just sitting at his bedside and praying.
“Those who were shouting “Death to Medeni Arifoğlu” in Democracy Watches following the coup attempt were present in his post-funeral reception. My husband was chosen as the sacrifice of this city.”
“My daughter was diagnosed with heart failure”
“My daughter developed heart failure in traveling for prison visits. His father wanted her to study law, and she is now a 21 years old law student. My son is 15 years old, and he is in high school now. My husband’s only dream was to have a conversation with his kids at the
same table. He could not pass a single night without pain.”
Life of a child murdered – Ahmet Burhan Ataç
The story of two years with resistance, suffering, and persecution is told from September 24, 2018, when he was diagnosed with cancer, until May 7, 2020, when he died.
Zekiye-Harun Reha Ataç’s child Ahmed Burhan Ataç was diagnosed with bone cancer on September 24, 2018. At the time he was diagnosed, his father was arrested. Ahmet’s two-year-long struggle mirrors the situation in Turkey.
On February 20, 2018, while Ahmet was playing games with his friends in the nursery, his mother Zekiye Ataç and his father Harun Reha Ataç were detained. Ahmet was only six years old. The mother Ataç, who was expelled during the state of emergency, was detained for 14 days. She was released after being arrested for about three months. The father Ataç was expelled from the teaching profession with a Decree-Law and got arrested after being detained for 13 days over being a director in a private dormitory related to the Gulen Movement. The diagnosis of Ahmet’s disease coincides with the period that he has been left without a mother and father for three months.
“No discount for you!”
Harun Reha Ataç, who was on trial at the Adana 2nd High Criminal Court, was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison after his son was diagnosed with cancer. On November 30, 2018, the reports about Ahmet’s illness and chemotherapy period were submitted to the court to request Harun Reha Ataç’s release pending appeal. The judge decided to continue his detention by saying, “I have no discount for you.”
Because Ahmet did not recover with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, he was operated in July 2019, and the tumor in the shoulder blade was cleaned. However, in September 2019, it was determined that the tumor had spread to the lung.
Via social media, Zekiye Ataç, said, “We had a test this week. A tumor was detected in the lung. Doctors were also shocked at the tumor’s growth in such a short time. I have no choice. My son is dying before my eyes. “Social media users put the issue on the agenda after the videos of the mother’s comments and Ahmet’s speech for his father’s release.
A campaign was launched on social media for Ahmet’s father to be tried without arrest and to be with him during the treatment process. Zekiye Ataç said, “There was a phone call from my husband in the morning, but Ahmet did not want to talk to his father on the phone. Because he couldn’t stand, but then he asked me, “What does my father say? My God, I wish my dad comes.” Thousands of social media users joined the label about Ahmet and his father’s release, and Ahmet was known widely by public opinion.
Ahmet’s mother detained
While the intense criticisms directed to Adana Courthouse about the difficulties for Ahmet’s treatment abroad and his father’s not being released, mother Zekiye Ataç was detained for the second time on October 15, 2019. Ahmet was without a father and a mother. Zekiye Ataç was accused of being a ‘member of the organization’ because she accepted the aids given for the treatment of his son. Zekiye Ataç was released the next day under the condition of judicial control after the reactions increased further.
As Ahmet’s disease progressed, his doctors directed him to the Immun-Oncology Center in Germany and stated that he could be treated there. In the first contact with the clinic, it was stated that Ahmet should be brought quickly. The family did not have the economic power to pay the expenses. Ahmet went to Germany on January 20, 2020, after a businessman said he would pay the first stage expenses. His mother could not go with Ahmet because of her travel ban. Ahmet went to Germany with his 70-year-old grandmother.
Required sum collected in 24 hours
Artel Natali Avazyan, a rights advocate who followed the case of Ahmet, started a donation campaign on January 24, 2020, for treatment expenses. The required 50 thousand euro was collected in 24 hours.
Mother Ataç said that the collection of the necessary money for the treatment was very moving: “I would like to thank Mrs. Natali and everyone who contributed in money and spirits. My belief in Ahmet’s recovery is strengthened. I think he will recover and have a nice family day.” She also added that her husband was also pleased that Ahmet went to Germany for treatment: “I will inform him that the money needed for treatment is collected. He will be very happy because he always thinks about Ahmet and us.”
Application for travel permission
Zekiye Ataç intensified her attempts to get travel permission and obtain a passport. However, the prosecution did not allow her to travel abroad.
It was stated that Ahmet was constantly crying and was depressed, and therefore did not respond to the treatment. Businessman Mete Atakul, who hosted Ahmet at his home in Germany, stated that Ahmet did not even eat because he was sad.
Travel ban restored three times
Due to intense public pressure, Zekiye Ataç could get travel permission in February 2020. However, upon the objection made by the prosecutor’s office, the court canceled her passport for the second time.
Because her mother could not go to Germany, Ahmed returned to Turkey to see his mother on February 8 for two weeks.
As a result of the efforts of Natali Avazyan and MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, travel permission was given again on February 21, 2020. The German Embassy quickly issued a visa to mother Ataç.
While trying to go to Germany on March 2, 2020, Zekiye Ataç learned at the airport that the Mersin 7th High Criminal Court canceled her passport for the third time.
“You are killing my son”
Zekiye Ataç posted a video on her social media account with the note, “You are killing my son in cooperation”.
Ahmet and his mother started waiting at the airport to solve the problem. The reactions have increased via social media. Singer Haluk Levent announced that he had met with Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu. The next day, on March 3, 2020, the travel permission was given again, and Ahmet flew to Germany with his mother.
Too late for treatment
Ahmet’s disease spread because judicial processes lasted too long. The blood values of Ahmet, who had many fractures in the leg bones, also decreased and did not respond to the treatment.
Doctors stated that Ahmet’s blood values were very low, and his body could not support the treatment.
Ahmet and his mother moved back to Turkey on March 11, 2020.
Phone conversation between father and son
A campaign was started for Ahmet’s father to be tried without an arrest to support his son during the treatment period. On March 27, 2020, the recorded telephone conversation between Ahmet and his father was published.
Ahmet wants his father to ‘come’. “Come here now; I can not stand.” His father, Harun Ataç, answered, crying: “My son, I cannot come. I want to come too, but I can’t, son. They don’t let me go, baby.”
After the intense effect created by the recorded speech, the prosecutor’s office allowed the father to meet his son for the first time. For a 5-hour meeting, father Harun Ataç came to the hospital to see Ahmet.
After the meeting, the photos of Ahmet, who slept smiling, were published.
Subsequently, all of the appeals for Harun Ataç’s trial without arrest were rejected.
Second campaign for morale: I love Ahmet
Arlet Natali Avazyan started a new campaign to cheer up Ahmet. Social media users said, ‘I love Ahmet’ with the videos and messages they shared. Famous people and social media users shared motivating videos.
Intensive care: Dad not allowed
Ahmet, whose condition worsened every day, got worse on May 6, 2020, and was taken to intensive care. Doctors put Ahmet to sleep.
Permission was requested from the prosecutor’s office for the father, Harun Reha Ataç, who was arrested in Tarsus Prison to see Ahmet for the last time. The prosecutor was stubborn not to let Harun Ataç see his son before the morning.
Ahmet left us
The heart of Ahmet, who struggled with the bone cancer disease he had caught in 2018 under the conditions of ‘state of emergency’, stopped three times. On May 7, 2020, Ahmet closed his eyes.
The story of Demir Family: Imprisoned and plundered
Living in Fethiye for 28 years, Demir Family, from the Erzurum city located in eastern Turkey, has experienced a severe trauma after July 15, 2016, as eight of its members were imprisoned.
After the controversial July 15 coup attempt, the Erdoğan regime canceled Mrs. Fatma Demir’s and her husband Mr. Mevlüt Demir’s passports and imposed an interim injunction on their assets.
After that, eight were imprisoned from Demir family, five of them on the same day: Mrs. Fatma Demir, her husband Mr. Mevlüt Demir, their son, their daughter, their daughter-in-law, their two sons-in-law, and their granddaughter.
According to Cevheri Güven’s news from Bold Medya, Mrs. Fatma Demir disclosed about the day and her following experience:
“My son Onur, my daughter-in-law Ezgi, my daughter Esra and my son-in-law Mahmut had come to visit us. While we all were at home, the police raided our house. They made us sit on a sofa for 6 hours without allowing any physical movement. They didn’t even let me fetch my grandson’s milk from the fridge right next to me. Just then, my husband and my daughter were outside. The police detained us six all. The police said on the phone to their superiors that ‘We found a treasure’. I think they get a bonus from such raids.
“We were in custody for 11 days. We were even forbidden to look at each other while being daily taken to the forensic physician. At the end of the 11th day, they took my statement for 4.5-hours. A long-faced, tall and bearded policeman made a questioning as if beating me over the table, lying, ‘Talk!!! Hey, you woman, talk!!’ I am 54 years old, and he was consistently asking who made me marry my husband!? I said, ‘I got married in the village in Erzurum.’ And he was asking my matchmaker. I said, ‘My father got me married.’ He just asked strange questions. I had a headache during 4.5-hours of nonsense questioning. Eventually, he said, ‘Take her away… She is useless.’ I didn’t understand what I could say as a 54-year old innocent woman.”
Then everyone was arrested. They sent us to three different prisons in three different cities intending to prevent us from visiting each other in the prison, although our surnames are the same and we had the constitutional right to see each other. Just to give us more hardship.”
When all the members of our family were arrested, neither anyone brought clothes to the prison nor deposited advance money in our accounts for prison canteen shopping:
“I was sent to Denizli T Type Prison. No one brought me clothes, or I didn’t have any down payment for the prison canteen. We were all in the same situation. We were literally in hunger amidst plenty. My husband was a building contractor, and we were financially sound. Suddenly we fell down the hill economically, from heyday days to not having two nickels to rub together.
I had a navy blue dress and a green greatcoat. The officials in the prison entrance said that navy blue and green colors were forbidden in prison. They insisted on taking my clothes out due to their colors. I replied that I didn’t have any other clothes; nevertheless, they still persisted. They even took out my navy blue fabric bonnet from my head under my scarf, which is used to keep firmly the hair under the silk scarf. I reiterated that I didn’t have any other clothes, but the same reply I received:
‘Forbidden!!!’. They pressured a lot. Then I suggested to them that they might bring me a white cloth so that I could cuddle myself like a lunatic one in psychiatry. I wouldn’t enter prison without clothes.
They took me to the ward. There were young students or young teachers in the ward. I was overweighted compared to them. Their clothes did not fit me. I was about to raise my hands and pray, ‘O Almighty, send someone in my weight to this ward to share her clothes.’
“Interestingly, although my husband sent enough clothes for me with my lawyer, he said to my husband that he has handed over my clothes to me, yet he did not. I received those clothes five months later from the lawyer’s car after I was released from prison. The lawyer also gave us a lot of trouble.”
In the second month of Mrs. Fatma Demir’s detention without a visitor, one day, her daughter entered in her ward:
“One day, the ward’s door was opened. We always thought that when someone opened the door outside of the mealtime, another innocent one was sent to our ward. We prepare the place, and we help her. I ran down the stairs and opened the door, and I have seen my daughter out there.
She said ‘Mom’ and I said ‘Dearest’. We hugged and embraced each other. Not only we two, but also everyone in the ward was crying along with us. My daughter said her father was also arrested with her. A tremor began on my left side. It continued for a long time. I went to the infirmary for weeks; they gave me powerful pills. Of course, we do not know what pill it was. They don’t provide the prescription; they just give the capsule. I turned into a person sitting like a robot on my bed while I used to be a morale-booster one who amused everyone in the ward. I was just sitting, numbed. Everyone started telling me what’s going on. Then we found out that it was a very high dose of medication that was given to the people who brutally attacked others. After I was released from prison, I asked a doctor about the drugs, and he said it was too strong for me. I came to myself in days when I quit it. Such wrong drugs are also given to the innocent prisoners, and they are numbing the brains.
I stayed with my daughter in the same ward for three months. My daughter had miscarriage her three children. She was able to have the fourth one with treatment. Of course, she missed her child very much and was crying by calling my grandson’s name ‘Levent’ till the mornings. We could not stand it, and we took my grandson Levent, undesirably, with us to the prison.
My grandson, my daughter, and I were in the same ward. My son-in-law and my husband were in the same ward while my other son-in-law was in Muğla City prison, and my daughter-in-law was in Aydın City prison. Seven persons from the same family were in prisons in three cities… We made my son Onur to be transferred to his father’s ward by writing hundreds of petitions as his father had illnesses and needed care. The father and the son stayed together for a year in the same ward. When the Supreme Court upheld my son’s sentence, they separated my son and took him to another ward. My son said to some staff in prison, ‘I requested the concerned authorities to be transferred to this prison because my father is ill and needs a carer. If I can talk to the prison director and express myself, he may not separate us. There is a blockage in his brain vessels. The required surgery could not be carried out due to the detention.’ Just because he had this request, the Emergency Response Team appeared and took my son by pushing his head down, as if he was a terrorist. They took him to the torture chamber. They wanted him to undress. A room with soundproof walls.. My son did not elaborate on what has happened, but apparently, they undressed him by force, handcuffed him from behind and they tied his feet by laying his face down. Hours later, they took him back by saying, “Did you come to your sense?”. They did so just because my son wanted to explain to the prison director on his father’s illness. Later they asked the prison director anyway, and when prison director said no, nobody insisted.”
Having her grandson’s only toy in prison was the broomstick, Fatma Demir described her days spent in prison:
“My grandson constantly wanted to go out by pushing the door. There was no toy of course. There was a broom which we swept the floor. He was playing with the broomstick. He climbed the bunk beds, fell, and cried. He went up and down the stairs, fell, and cried. When he started talking, he used to say, ‘Don’t get upset, there is little left’ and made everyone laugh. Normally kids do not like some vegetables like leeks, but since he is obliged to eat, he used to say “I feel like eating leeks today”, and leek was coming on the menu. If he said ‘I feel like eating eggs today,’ and we had eggs on the menu. Whatever my grandson said, it was served. My ward-mates were getting around, and saying ‘Dear Levent, please wish such and such food today.’
If anyone cried, my grandson used to solace, “There is too little left, we will be out anyway.” He had been going a number of times to the courts with his mother for two years. One day he got up at the courtroom and started performing prayer. As he only saw women around in prison, he insisted on having a scarf for his head for his prayer. Although we insisted a lot, Levent could not wear shorts or short sleeve t-shirts, since there were cameras everywhere for us, the prisoners and we all were always paying attention to our wearing, I mean the hijab (and being covered in general). Later, there was a kindergarten in prison, but the child could not go out. Thereafter his play was to hook on something around his waist like a key, and he was becoming a prison guardian. Trying to open the doors, he used to say ‘I will take you to the view.”
After five months of detention, Mrs. Fatma Demir was released due to having eight detainees in her family.
“Normally, when someone is released, all the prisoners used to shout out the name with “released, released” in the yard and send her off with applause. This accustomedness did not apply while I was released. It was as if the bride was leaving her house during her wedding day and she was upset as she was leaving her mother. I was leaving for my freedom; nevertheless, I was leaving my daughter and grandson in prison. I was leaving seven people from my family in prisons as if leaving pieces of my lung out there. Everyone cried then. I looked back, my daughter Esra was waving behind me, and it was very difficult.
After I was released, I started to make a tour of visitations among seven people from my family among Aydın, Muğla, and Denizli cities, which are 1.30 to 2.30 hours away from each other. Since the views are very early in the morning, you have to go to the city a day earlier. It was not that easy, especially for a lady my age. I could only stay at my house in Fethiye once a week, and the rest was always on the roads.”
The state, on the one hand, and by the public on the other, started plundering the wealthy Demir family’s assets and properties. It reminds me of the mobs taking the streets of Istanbul and plundered the non-Muslim Greek, Armenian, Jewish houses on September 6 and 7, 1955.
“They blocked our bank accounts and imposed an interim injunction on our properties; however, the debts continued to grow with interest. When I came out of prison, I started dealing with exorbitant debts.
We recently purchased land on the upland. It was 5.6 acres of land and 1.2 acres of peach garden. Peaches’ quality was fantastic. We just collected from the garden once. When my son-in-law was released after me, we said, ‘Let’s go and collect our peaches so that we can sell and get some money for the debts.’ After we reached there, let alone the peaches, there were not even standing trees. The neighbor, whom we entrust our garden, took his tractor into our garden and cut all the peaches from their roots in order to make a field for himself. He literally destroyed 50 of our peach trees, cut our walnut trees, sold the pears, olives, or poplars. They spoke in the village coffee house that ‘The terrorists purchased that house and land, let’s burn it down!’. They broke the windows of the house and committed a burglary. They dismantled the irrigation system in the garden and took it to their own gardens. A peasant, whom we allowed him to cultivate anything on our 5.6 acres land as he wished, cut our 50 peach trees and several walnut trees. There was a difference as chalk and cheese between our intentions.”
Fatma Demir encounters the fact that her assets were plundered after her release.
“We had a brand new car that we got on for four months only. We were entrusted to a neighbor in the upland and covered it with a tarpaulin in front of our house. While we were in prison, a police officer stole it with a tow truck in front of our house in the upland at night. We became to know that he used our almost brand new car for about a year. He has opened the car’s doors with something like a screwdriver. We though our car was in the gratuitous bailee depot, but a police officer was using it for himself. Everyone was doing something when you are desperate.
We had some unfinished constructions. A man has spent 40.000 Turkish Lira (TL) ($5.700) inside the house, and he wanted 120.000 TL ($17.100) from us. They both transfer our property to National Estate and don’t pay their utility bills and making us pay the debt. I constantly paid debts. I have been dealing in the offices for two years, like the Courthouse, the Debt Enforcement Office, or the Land Registry Office.
They transferred our office building to the National Estate. Our house was a four-story building and was sold out. There were debts to the banks, where doubled a few times with interest. We couldn’t sell anything registered on my husband’s name. We sold the properties or assets that registered on my name. I sold my own house and moved to a rental one. We did not have any business operations in 2017 as we all were in prison, and our properties and asset were imposed an interim injunction; however, they charged us 10.000 TL ($1.426) income taxes and 8.000 TL ($1.140) VAT debts. It became, with interest, 35.000 TL ($5000) for not paying on time. They did not remove the blocks in our accounts, our properties could not be sold, we were all under arrest, we could not collect our receivables, and this inexistent 35.000 TL ($5000) tax debt has been doubled to 78.000 TL ($11.120) with more interest. They have imposed an interim injunction for our whole asset for this 78.000 TL debt, although our total asset worth much more.
They did not allow me to draw my husband’s pension. We worked hard for months to get it. My son-in-law, who is a doctor, tried very hard then. Later on, they said they will send his pension money to PTT (The National Post and Telegraph Directorate of Turkey.), I didn’t understand how it happened. Everyone is doing something among themselves.”
Human Rights Watch: Allegations of Abduction and Torture Not Investigated in Turkey
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the authorities in Turkey to conduct an effective investigation into the allegations of people who say that they were held in custody and tortured by government agents for many months.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement today (April 29) and requested that the authorities in Turkey urgently carry out an effective investigation into the testimony of a person in pretrial detention who said that state agents forcibly disappeared and tortured him for nine months.
The testimony in question belongs to Gökhan Türkmen. Türkmen, 43, spoke for the first time during a February 10, 2020 court hearing about his abduction, enforced disappearance, and torture. He also said that officials had visited him in prison and threatened him and his family.
“Flagrantly flouting its legal obligations, Turkey has consistently failed to investigate credible evidence of enforced disappearances,” has said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at the HRW:
“The authorities should urgently investigate Türkmen’s allegations that he was abducted, tortured, and pressured to remain silent, and ensure that he and his family are protected against reprisals for speaking out.”
‘Prosecutor said there was no need to investigate’
The HRW has shared the following information about the issue:
“Türkmen disappeared in Antalya on February 7, 2019. His family repeatedly sought information from various authorities about his whereabouts and when met with silence, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
“Türkmen resurfaced in police custody on November 6. An Ankara court sent him to pretrial detention, and he remains in solitary confinement in Ankara’s Sincan F-type Prison No. 1. He is facing charges of espionage and links to the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for the July 2016 coup attempt.
“Türkmen’s lawyer has also filed complaints that men who introduced themselves as National Intelligence Agency (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT) officers have visited him in prison six times since November 15 and threatened him and his family.
“During a March 2020 visit, the men pressured him to retract his allegations about abduction and torture at the February court hearing. On April 16, the Ankara prosecutor issued three decisions saying there was no need to investigate the complaints. Türkmen’s lawyer is appealing.
“His wife told Human Rights Watch that she had faced intimidation from unknown sources who hacked the Twitter account she had set up in her husband’s name to campaign about his whereabouts when he disappeared, and set up a second one also in his name.”
‘Allegations are not investigated’
The HRW has also indicated that “Türkmen, is one of at least two dozen people over the past three years whose families, or in a few cases the individuals themselves, have said they have been abducted and forcibly disappeared by government agents for many months.”
The organization has shared the following information about them:
“All but one are men. HRW has examined 16 such cases since 2017. Turkish authorities have yet to effectively investigate any of them, and a number of families have applied to the European Court of Human Rights for justice. The whereabouts and fate of one man remains unknown.
“Four other men who were forcibly disappeared in February 2019 and resurfaced in police custody in July have remained silent on the full circumstances, although their families lodged multiple complaints with the Turkish authorities and to the European Court of Human Rights.
“The four – Selim Zeybek, Özgür Kaya, Yasin Ugan, and Erkan Irmak – are in pretrial detention in Sincan prison facing prosecution for links with the Gülen movement and espionage.
“A fifth man, Mustafa Yılmaz, abducted in February 2019, resurfaced in police custody in October, and is also in pretrial detention in Sincan prison.
“Another man, Yusuf Bilge Tunç, disappeared in Ankara on August 6, 2019 and his whereabouts remain unknown despite his family’s repeated pleas to the Turkish authorities for information.
“One man, Mesut Geçer, said he was forcibly disappeared in March 2017, and was held for 16 months and repeatedly tortured before being transferred to police custody. Ayten Öztürk has said that in March 2018 she was forcibly disappeared and tortured for over five months before being officially registered in police custody.”
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