Former Turkish diplomats arrested over terrorism charges claim they have been tortured as well as sexually abused with police batons, Ankara Bar Association reported.
According to the report, the ex-diplomats were endured torture such as sexual harassment with batons, threats of rape, reverse handcuffing, harsh beatings, being knocked unconscious, and being forced to completely undress.
Arrest warrants were issued last week for 249 former employees for Foreign Ministry. It has been claimed that some of the detainees were exposed to systematic torture in Ankara Police Headquarters so that “they would sign the petition for making use of effective remorse law and become informants.” Ankara Police, on the other hand, denied the allegations in a press statement and stated that 130 attorneys saw the suspects 545 times.
The exact number of detainees is not known under the file with a confidentiality order on it. It is believed that the number exceeds 100 including those who have been arrested or surrendered since May 20.
According to the information the BBC Turkish has garnered, the detention order of detainees, who have been detained for a week, has been extended until Friday through a court order. Statements started to be taken from the detainees today.
All of the female detainees except one have been released. The claims about torture in detention surfaced on Saturday when the women were released.
HDP lawmaker Gergerlioğlu submitted a written question
HDP Kocaeli lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu announced the claims of torture in Ankara Police Headquarters the other day from his Twitter account. Then Mr. Gergerlioğlu submitted a written question regarding the issue to be answered by Vice President Fuat Oktay.
Speaking to the BBC Turkish, Gergerlioğlu said most of the detainees had been dismissed through emergency decrees and there were claims that 20 suspects were exposed to brutal torture.
In his press statement, he urged the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Justice to take action about the claims.
“I’m told that they said they’d rape him with a truncheon unless he talked”
Moreover, the attorneys contacted by the BBC Turkish requested that “the names of their clients, who will be detained until Friday,” should not be mentioned in the news story “for their safety.”
An attorney told about the torture inflicted on his client as follows:
“They bring him in for questioning on Saturday night, take him downstairs, and then blindfold him. They strip him naked and handcuff him in the back. They keep him on his knees with his head on the ground. They oil his anus, brush a truncheon around it, and tell him they’ll insert it unless he talks. “
“They tell him that the procedure will continue unless he talks until Friday when detention will be over and they demand they want a statement for effective remorse. When my client gets worse there, they stop torturing. When he gets up at night to go to the toilet, he collapses. He passes out once again in the morning during breakfast. Whereupon they take him to the hospital.”
The attorney says that his client was examined at the hospital but was too afraid to tell the doctor about the torture because he was accompanied by officers.
“When my client said he’d been tortured, I didn’t think about anything like it and asked “Roll up your t-shirt so I’ll see it.” I thought it was beating and I could take a photograph. But when he told these, I got speechless. There isn’t any physical sign or mark because the torture had been performed by a professional team.”
According to the statements from 3 different attorneys who spoke to the BBC Turkish, at least 6 persons were exposed to “the activity or threat of rape with truncheon” and at least 20 persons to torture in a room other than the prison cell.
“They are demanded to be informants through torture.”
Another attorney says that the torture started with the release of female detainees and some of the suspects who were taken to court for an extension of detention “limped” because of the torture inflicted on them.
“I’m told that some were raped with a truncheon, and others were threatened again as the top of a truncheon was oiled and moved around the anal area. After these instances of torture, one said he’d take advantage of effective remorse and sign whatever they wanted. To those he did not take advantage of effective remorse, they said, ‘You have time until Friday. If you don’t talk, we’ll do all kinds of torture on you.’”
ANKARA BAR ASSOCIATION
CENTER FOR ATTORNEY RIGHTS, PENAL INSTITUTION BOARD AND CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
REPORT REGARDING CLAIMS OF TORTURE IN ANKARA PROVINCIAL POLICE HEADQUARTERS INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL CRIMES
Subject: The report regarding the meetings and inspections performed by Ankara Bar Association Center for Attorney Rights, Penal Institutions Board and Center for Human Rights into claims about torture in the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes which appeared on the press and exposed to public on 26 May 2019.
Initially, a message was shared on Kocaeli Lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu’s account on Twitter, the micro-blogging site, on 26 May 2019 that “there are claims of torture in Ankara Police Headquarters.” In later hours and days, claims of “beating to unconsciousness, harassment and forcing to watch those who were being tortured, the fact that acts of torture that were incompatible with human dignity were inflicted in at least four cases, the acts were performed by persons coming to Ankara Police Headquarters from outside who identified themselves as MIT; a diplomat who was beaten to unconscious was hospitalized; doctors did not write any report regarding the incident; the torture continued and it was openly stated that it would get worse; attempts were made to get statements through torture ” appeared on the media, thus revealed to the public about some 100 people identified to be Foreign Ministry Staff dismissed through emergency decrees who were kept in custody in Investigation Department of Financial Crimes.”
The attorneys who provided legal assistance for the persons in custody submitted complaints to the center and boards of our bar association regarding the claims of ill-treatment and torture.
Besides complaints about torture, complaints have been submitted regarding the fact that the colleagues who went to see their clients under their duty of defense were forced to sign an affidavit in accordance with orders from the prosecutor’s office, but in violation of the provisions of the CMK, that said, “I declare and undertake that I will take the power of attorney regarding my representing the person I will see for the investigation file … and present it to Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office so that it is included in the investigation file (Attachment-1 Order letter from the prosecutor’s office and the record demanded to be signed).
Our Bar Association’s Center for Attorney Rights, Penal Institutions Board and Center for Human Rights made appointments for the on-site inspection of the claims of ill-treatment and torture and well as the claims that the attorneys were demanded to hand in an affidavit for presenting the power of attorney, which is a violation of CMK provisions, and the appointed colleagues went over to the Ankara Provincial Police Headquarters Investigation Department of Financial Crimes on 27 May 2019 to hold interviews and carry out inspections.
The Trip to Investigation Department of Financial Crimes and the Happenings
- Coercion into taking an affidavit for presenting the power of attorney
The officials from Center for Attorney Rights of our bar association went over to the department first. As a result of the meetings regarding the order from the prosecutor’s office about taking an affidavit from attorneys for presenting the power of attorney, which violates the provisions of the CMK, the practice of taking an affidavit was discontinued by the chiefs in the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes.
- Interviews with the persons whose names were reported for suffering ill-treatment and torture
After the discontinuation of the practice of taking an affidavit as a result of the meetings held by the Center of Attorney Rights of our bar association, a second panel comprising members of Penal Institutions Board, Center for Human Rights, and Center for Attorney Rights who visit the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes held a meeting in a closed room with the six persons whose names had been reported regarding the claims of ill-treatment and torture, and statements were officially recorded and signed in the company of the persons who suffered ill-treatment and torture. (The names of the persons interviewed are kept confidential in this report.)
Established by the written statements and as a result of the interviews, the findings regarding the claims of ill-treatment and torture are as follows:
- All the 6 persons who were interviewed stated that they had been taken to meetings under the pretext of “interviews,” where they were forced to become informants and suffered threats and insults. All the 6 persons who were interviewed stated that they were taken out for an interview more than once, they were put under psychological stress during the interview, and they could identify the persons who carried out the interviews if they saw them.
- 5 of the 6 persons who were interviewed stated that they suffered ill-treatment and torture outside the interviews. 1 person with whom an interview was held stated that he did not personally suffer ill-treatment and torture but heard about the claims of ill-treatment and torture from the persons with whom he shared a cell and from other persons when they were taken together to the Criminal Judgeship of Peace during the time extension procedures. No discrepancy was found between the names of persons whom this person heard to have suffered ill-treatment and torture and the names of the persons who declared that they suffered ill-treatment and torture
- According to the common statements of the 5 persons who stated that they had suffered ill-treatment and torture; these persons were taken out of their cells where they were held in custody (one on Saturday night, another the night between Saturday and Sunday, and the other three Sunday night), they were taken to the section on the ground floor of Ankara Provincial Police Headquarters Investigation Department of Financial Crimes (one person said he was taken without handcuffs, while four said they were handcuffed in the back), they were put in through a door with the sign “No Entrance” on it on the narrow hallway at the entrance of the department, the persons who put them in the dark room left, the persons whose faces they could not identify because of the dark first forced them against the wall, blindfolded them (The uncuffed person stated that he was the first to be handcuffed in this room), then forced them to kneel, made them crawl for a while, hit them on the head with truncheons, threatened that they would be raped unless they talked, and the persons in the dark room brushed truncheons on their bodies.
After these events, 3 said they were stripped completely naked, one said he was stripped waist down, one said his trousers were stripped half down; and then 4 persons, the completely and waist-down naked ones, were handcuffed in the back, put in fetus position, had truncheons brush their anal areas; they were subjected to threats and insults all the while; they were given one to two minutes after which they were told “We now move into the next stage” and a substance which they thought to be oil or lubricant was poured on their anal areas and truncheons were brushed around their anal areas. In addition, 1 person stated that they tried to take his trousers off, which they managed to lower halfway, he forced them back up, and he was tortured by having the truncheon brushed over his body and clothes.
- The 5 persons who said they had been subjected to ill-treatment and torture were asked whether the persons who performed the ill-treatment and torture were one of the persons whose face they saw and voice they heard in the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes and they replied that these were different persons. When asked if they used any expression that might reveal their identity, four of the persons said no such expression was used but one stated that he heard them say, “We came from outside; we’re a professional team.”
- The 5 persons who said they had been subjected to ill-treatment and torture stated that they were accompanied by a police officer during the daily examination of the doctor and they could not tell the doctor about what they experienced because they feared for and were worried about their safety of life.
- 1 person who said he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture stated that before the ill-treatment and torture defined as the second stage one person asked him whether he was married and when he said he was he was told “Look, you won’t be able to sleep with your wife and you’ll wake up at night and cry.”
- 1 person who said he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture stated that he got bruises on his knees due to the crawling (the bruises were seen and photographed by the visiting commission) and declared to the doctor on his first examination the day after the torture, but when the doctor verbally declared that he had written in the report as bruises the female officer who was present during the examination panicked, got hold of her mobile phone, and wrote something to someone, and he was then taken out of the room and he was not shown the completed version of the report and they were later transferred to the Criminal Judgeship of Peace for procedures of extending detention time, and the same doctor wrote in the report that there was no mark of battery or coercion in the examination they were taken after the extension decision, and he had no idea about the fate of the other report.
- 1 person who said he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture stated that he was told before they started ill-treatment and torture that “We rape with truncheons here; you must’ve heard about it. It’s all true,” and then he was subjected to the ill-treatment and torture explained above.
- 1 person who said he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture stated that he did not say anything to his friends when he returned to the cell after the experience; all he could say was that there was torture, and then he went to sleep; when he wanted to go to the toilet when he woke up he passed out; 112 medical team came in, checked his blood pressure and then left; he also passed out in the morning after the events; and he had not slept for 48 hours.
- 1 person who said he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture stated that when they were taken before the Criminal Judgeship of Peace he said to the Criminal Judge of Peace that he had been subjected to ill-treatment; the judge answered, “Is it just you? Why doesn’t anyone else have it;” whereupon another person who stated that he had been subjected to ill-treatment and torture said, “I’ve subjected to torture too.” 2 persons in the same trial stated that the judge said, “I’m not a doctor; this isn’t my job; Go tell it to the doctor.”
When our colleagues who were appointed by the central office and boards of our bar association informed the officials at the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes about the names of the persons with whom they wanted to interview, they were told that statements were taken from 3 of these persons since they wanted to take advantage of the provisions of effective remorse and they were then released. The files of these persons had been reviewed and no finding about ill-treatment or torture had been reported in their files. Similarly, the reports of the persons with whom interviews were conducted and about whom the findings above are confirmed had been reviewed and it was reported that there was no sign of battery or coercion. The persons with whom the interviews that revealed the findings were made named the 3 persons who took advantage of the effective remorse and were released and stated that they heard from others who went to the interviews and from still others whom they met at the Criminal Judgeship of Peace when they were transferred to the courthouse for the time extension order for detention that they were subjected to ill-treatment and torture like they were. As stated in the ECHR as well as other international conventions, the presence of the doctor’s report per se is not a sign that no ill-treatment or torture was experienced. When the accounts that reveal the findings above are evaluated as a whole, (it can be seen that) the persons were illegally taken to doctor’s examination in company of a police officer. The accounts of the persons who were heard do not contradict one another. When the accounts are evaluated as a whole, they confirm the fact that these persons were subjected to torture and ill-treatment in a way that would not leave any mark of battery or coercion.
Article 17/3 of the Constitution, which stipulates a ban on torture, reads as follows:
“No one shall be subjected to torture or mal-treatment; no one shall be subjected to penalties or treatment incompatible with human dignity.”
In addition, Article 3 of the ECHR is as follows:
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Moreover, Article 1 of Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states that
“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.”
These provisions ban torture and ill-treatment in international and national norms.
Furthermore, Article 4 of Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is as follows:
“Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.”
International norms stipulate that torture should be defined as crime and penal sanctions should be enforced. Turkey is one of the state parties in the abovementioned convention.
Article 94 of the Turkish Penal Code, titled Torture, is as follows:
“(1) A public officer who performs any act towards a person that is incompatible with human dignity, and which causes that person to suffer physically or mentally, or affects the person’s capacity to perceive or his ability to act of his own will or insults them shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of three to twelve years.
(2) If the offence is committed against:
- a) a child, a person who is physically or mentally incapable of defending himself or a pregnant women; or
- b) a public officer or an advocate on account of the performance of his duty, a penalty of imprisonment for a term of eight to fifteen years shall be imposed.
(3) If the act is conducted in the manner of sexual harassment, the offender shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of ten to fifteen years,
(4) Any other person who participates in the commission of this offence shall be sentenced in a manner equivalent to the public officer.
(5) If the offence is committed by way of omission there shall be no reduction in the sentence.”
In our Turkish Penal code, the crime of torture entails penal sanctions. In this respect, considering the findings above, an investigation must be launched against the concerned parties and not also the persons who ignore the crime of torture and commit the crime of torture but also anybody else who attacked the physical and mental entity of others must be identified and punished.
Therefore, the law stipulates that
- Considering the fact that the law enforcement officers who carried out the investigation into the detainees could be the suspects of a probable investigation of torture or ill-treatment, they should be suspended from the investigation so that torture and ill-treatment against the detainees can be prevented and the investigation can be carried out effectively;
- Although daily doctor’s examinations must be conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol, to which Turkey is a party, necessary instructions must be submitted for examination procedures to be conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol because law enforcement was kept present during examination in violation of the protocol;
- All the suspects kept in custody in Ankara Provincial Police Headquarters Investigation Department of Financial Crimes must be brought before the prosecutor’s office immediately without getting their statements completed at the police headquarters;
- An investigation must be launched ex-officio for the identification of the persons who committed the crime of torture; an effective investigation must be conducted so that material facts can be revealed and any spoliation of evidence can be forestalled; units and members of Provincial Gendarmerie must be used as per Articles 160/2 and 164 of the CMK no. 5271, and units and members of the police must not be appointed directly in this investigation;
- All the raw camera footages from 20 May 2019 when the detention procedures were started to 28 May 2018 must be collected immediately starting with those of the different places of detention where the suspects were kept at Ankara Provincial Police Headquarters, the camera footages that show the entrances and exits of the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes as well as all the camera footages inside the Investigation Department of Financial Crimes, and the moments when the detained suspects were being taken away for interviews and torture so that the suspect law enforcement officers can be identified; because it is known that camera recordings were previously erased after their preservation for 30 days in similar applications due to claims of law enforcement officers’ battery and torture against both attorneys and suspects, legal obligations must be fulfilled for all pieces of evidence to be collected and protected;
- Considering the fact that the law enforcement officers who carried out the investigation could well be the suspects of a probable investigation of torture or ill-treatment, the staff who were assigned to the said operations must be suspended until the investigation into claims of torture and ill-treatment is completed;
- Considering the fact that a judge who learns about a claim of torture and ill-treatment is obliged to take action and that the Criminal Judge of Peace did not take any action although the persons declared to him that they were subjected to torture, the Criminal Judge of Peace who issued an extension on detention period must be identified and necessary legal action must be taken against him.
In this respect, we bring to the public attention the fact that we are ready to present Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office with the records and documents drawn up by the members of our bar association in the boards and central office in case or when they are demanded and we as Ankara Bar Association will continue the legal struggle to the very end so that torture and ill-treatment can be eliminated.
Turkish court sentences torturers in landmark ruling
Ercivan Özcan, who was tortured in Manisa Prison until his arm was broken, managed to convict two guards (prison officers) despite the laws protecting the torturers.
BOLD EXCLUSIVE – In Manisa T Type Prison, Ercivan Özcan was beaten by the guards and his left arm was broken in several spots from shoulder to elbow. Moreover, he had pneumonia in those days. After Özcan was discharged from the hospital and returned to prison, he continued his legal struggle despite the pressure by the prison administration and had two guards who tortured him expelled from their positions as the court sentenced them to 5 years imprisonment.
Ercivan Özcan, who lives in the Turgutlu district of Manisa, was detained as part of Gülen movement-related probes on September 1, 2016, over the notices made during the period of the state of emergency. He was detained in Manisa T Type Prison for 18 months and was released pending trial during the first hearing on January 29, 2018. However, he experienced severe rights violations while he was in prison.
He was tortured when he had pneumonia
Ercivan Özcan, who was 57 years old when he was arrested, stayed with 30 people in a 10-person ward and contracted pneumonia due to bad prison conditions.
Özcan was diagnosed with pneumonia on January 18, 2017, but it was decided to continue his treatment in his ward, not in the hospital. The next day, during the morning headcount, Ozcan’s ward was raided by the guards because 3 detainees were late for the counting.
Ozcan who was standing in the cold in the courtyard for 20 minutes, exposed torture because of the expression he said with the pain of his illness; “If I have the right, I will take my rightful due it in the Hereafter”. According to the information given in the indictment, Özcan was laid down by the guards by twisting his two arms upside down despite him shouting that his “arm was defective”, he was repeatedly beaten with blows particularly on his left arm.
According to the forensic report of the Manisa State Hospital, Özcan’s arm was severely fractured between the shoulder and elbow, adding that there was severe and lifelong damage to his vital functions.
Eight days without surgery
Özcan was not sent to the hospital as a separate punishment after his arm was broken. Consequently, he lost his conscious in the ward. After 2.5 hours, his arm was completely black and swollen. Özcan was transferred to Manisa State Hospital upon the insistent demand of two doctors and pharmacists in his ward.
Because of pneumonia, Ozcan lungs were in poor condition that is why he could not be operated due to life-threatening risks. Blood was taken from his arm continuously every day until he was operated finally at the end of the eighth day.
He commenced a legal struggle
Özcan was sent back to prison after the surgery and when he saw that the guards Volkan Akkuş and Özgür Kutlu who had tortured him were still on duty, he started an intense legal struggle.
Özcan brought the matter to the judiciary after the prison management continued to send these two guards for the headcount in his ward.
Ercivan Özcan, who carried out the legal struggle with great care, submitted many the reports that ‘he was vitally injured’ attaching testimony of many eye-witnesses. In the light of clear evidence and reports, the court convicted two guards on May 13, 2019.
After a long legal struggle, the guards Volkan Akkuş and Özgür Kutlu were found guilty by the Manisa 2nd High Criminal Court. While Akkuş and Kutlu were removed from the civil service, they were also sentenced to 6 years imprisonment separately. Due to their good conduct at the hearing, this penalty was reduced to 5 years.
Ercivan Özcan also filed a lawsuit against the two guards for damages due to the permanent loss of strength and weakness in his arm that gets worse day by day.
“I will be arrested if they send me back,” Turkish asylum seeker calls out to German authorities
German Police raided the house of a Turkish national who sought asylum in Germany fleeing Erdogan regime’s crackdown on Hizmet movement, following a court ruling for his deportation back to Turkey, a country where he can face arrest or worse.
Rahman Gün, the Turkish asylum seeker who face deportation, worked in Turkey’s largest petrochemical company PETKIM. He and his family came to Germany in March 2018 and demanded asylum. However, German authorities decided to deport them back to Turkey.
Gün, who started work from the moment he came to Germany not receiving any benefit from public offices, found a job in Africa not to be deported back to Turkey.
However, Gün’s papers are not given back to him.
“I am definitely going be arrested if I am deported,” said Gün.
Merseburg Police in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany raided the residence of Rahman Gün and his family in the morning of November 15 with 8 police officers. The police came to deport Rahman Gün, his wife Ayşe Hilal Gün and his two children back to Turkey.
Rahman Gün, an electrician, had to seek asylum in Germany due to his predicament in Turkey over his ties to the Hizmet Movement. His spouse Ayşe Hilal Gün was a kindergarten teacher and she worked in the schools affiliated with the Hizmet Movement.
Ayşe Hilal Gün, who was already being treated for panic attacks, had an attack during the police raid. Her family members allege that she was beaten by the police.
Gün was taken to a hospital by an ambulance. Doctors decided to keep her in hospital for a while. She is still being treated in the hospital.
Gün is baffled by the police raiding his house to deport him back to Turkey despite the fact that he had permission to stay in Germany until the 10th of December. Gün also has stated that he would go to Africa voluntarily because he found a job there, which makes sending him back to Turkey all the more pointless.
Gün describes what happened as follows:
“I was working for PETKIM in Turkey. Nearly 15 colleagues of mine associated with the Hizmet Movement were arrested. At work, my relationship with the Hizmet Movement was well-known so I was under intense pressure. I was having temper tantrums because I couldn’t talk to anyone.”
“My wife was staying at home alone because I worked on the night shift. My wife started to have panic attacks due to waiting in constant stress because the cops always came at night. She began to receive treatment and take medication on a regular basis.”
“The first hearing of my friends who were arrested was in January 2018. I realized that I would be next when I found out that some questions were asked about me at the hearing. I took my wife and children and hastily fled Turkey and came to Germany. I would have gone to Canada because I could easily find a job suitable for my professional skills there, however, I did not have the time to wait for a visa because I could be detained any time by then. After coming to Germany in March 2018, I found a job to make a living.”
In August, BAMF (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) refused our asylum request. I objected to the ruling and the court overruled the objection a week later. Then we appealed to a higher court. On October 17, the appeal was rejected as well. That was the final decision which meant that I would be deported back to Turkey.
I was told that I had to find Ausbildung (a vocational training course) to solve my problem but I could not manage to enroll in any training program because I lacked sufficient language skills for the programs. They finally gave us a deadline to leave Germany until December the 10th.
However, they suddenly came with 8 policemen and said: ‘We will send you back to Turkey,’ even though I still had time.
“They hit my wife’s head against the ground”
“When the cops came, my wife got sick as she has been having panic attacks.”
“The cops tore us apart. My wife fell. She was trying to get to the kids, but the cops wouldn’t let her. Meanwhile, when she suddenly screamed, I went there next to them. The cops assaulted her on the ground. Her head hit the ground.”
“Then I called an ambulance. She was taken to a rehabilitation facility. There, the doctors decided to hospitalize her. She is still in the hospital.”
“I will be arrested if I go to Turkey”
“If they send me back to Turkey, I will be arrested. My file shows that my phone call records have just been issued. I found a job in Africa to avoid going to Turkey and getting arrested. But my passport and all my documents are in the hands of German authorities. So I cannot go there[to Africa] either. ”
“I have submitted all the documents showing that I found a job in Africa, including my work agreement. I have permission to stay in Germany until December 10. They could at least give me the right to go to the country where I found a job. I don’t understand how they deport me even though it is certain that I am going to be arrested there.”
Plight of children with imprisoned parents
Hundreds of mothers and fathers, were arrested due to alleged relations with Hizmet Movement in Erdogan’s Turkey. The children with both parents imprisoned are part of a great tragedy that takes place in the country.
There are more than 500 thousand ongoing investigations against alleged Hizmet movement members. The movement comprises the largest organized opposition against Erdogan’s rule in Turkey. Children are the greatest victims of investigations targeting these well-educated citizens.
The Öner family is among those many victims. Meryem and Osman Öner were arrested on March 6, 2017. Their three children have to stay with different relatives. The mother and her 2 children have medical conditions.
Especially the eldest child of the family, İbrahim Said Öner, is trying to make his voice heard on Twitter for his mother’s immediate release.
Said Öner said that his mother had been receiving psychological treatment for 8 years and had been using strong pharmaceuticals. He also mentioned that “Her condition in the prison is deteriorating. When she got worse, the doctors wrote a report that she ‘cannot remain alone’. However, she is kept alone. Moreover, she is alone in the 28-person ward. In Kilis city prison, there is no one under arrest over Hizmet Movement related investigations, so she is kept alone.”
Said Öner said that not only his sister who is a student of 11th grade has to use strong medications due to her mental state, but also he is having fits. He mentioned that his mother should be immediately released pending a trial both for her well-being and for her children.
Said Öner tells the story of what his siblings undergo and what happened afterward:
“It became obvious that my parents were in prison due to probes into the Hizmet Movement. It’s a small town where my siblings live. They encountered too much neighborhood pressure. My brother was forced to drop out of school because of bullying. He was admitted to a correspondence school.”
Said Öner posted on Twitter about the turmoil in his family’s life revealing that his two siblings stay at his aunts in the southern Hatay city while he remained in Istanbul at another aunt of him. Hatay is 1.115 kilometers away from Istanbul.
“My mother desired to be transferred to the prison in the city where my siblings have been living for almost a year, so did my father. Each time, their petition was rejected,” Öner says and carries on with stating, “My father was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on the same charges over which Hizmet Movement members are incriminated, such as sending your child to a Hizmet affiliated school. They’re completely innocent. These incidents affected me and I studied harder and successfully enrolled in law school.”
“One of my siblings is in 11th grade, the other one is a 3rd-grade. We have no income. My aunts support us.”
“We want, at least, my mother to be released as soon as possible, both for her and my two siblings’ health conditions.”
Resorting to higher courts
Not getting any results from the local court, Said Oner said “My dad’s always worried about my mom being alone. He is afraid as my mother is not psychologically well. My parents are ruined mentally speaking. We consider applying to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.”
The Hizmet Movement, which currently has 17,000 members in detention, describes this course of time as “Tenkil” – “Purge.” “Tenkil” is an Arabic-rooted Turkish word, a noun that signifies eradicating or total cleansing. In the last three years, 117,000 people have been arrested for various periods over their alleged membership in the Hizmet Movement. Almost all of these people are university graduates and the majority are teachers.