He was an academic who involved in an international project of Turkey. He was blacklisted by professors and interrogated, handcuffed at the university campus, his family disbanded, crawled in the sewers for an hour and marched to freedom…
S. A. was an academician at Düzce University Vocational School of Higher Education. But he’s not an ordinary scholar. He was a professor, who had been accepted to national and international universities and wrote down numerous Turkish and English articles. However, after the 15th of July, he was questioned at the university by his colleagues and reported to the police.
After about 7, 5 months in prison S.A acquitted of all claims and because of family threats, he had to leave Turkey. He had faced a lot of troubles before he passed the Maritsa (Meric) River1.
37 years old scholar fell into a sewer in Edirne, attacked by the dogs three times. Now in Germany, he is trying to heal and to hold on to life. With his own words, S.A’s academic journey, his fragmented family and events he had experienced his journey to becoming a refugee:
In 2002, I graduated from Seljuk University Industrial Engineering Department. In 2004-2005, I enrolled in the Russian Language and Literature Department of the same university. I finished the two programs at the same time in 2007.
In the same year, I got admission to the master’s degree in General Management and Strategic Management at Moscow State University. After completing my master’s program for one year, I went to America to improve my English in the last semester of 2009 and enrolled at Brooklyn College, where I learned both the language and did research on my thesis.
Then I returned to Turkey. I got married in July 2010 and started to work here in September 2010 because of my acceptance from Duzce University. I worked in Düzce until 2016.
I AM IN LOVE WITH EDUCATION
I was always so eager to study and improve myself. I also wanted to use my foreign language skills and I thought I had great potential. Later, I have started my Ph.D. in Management at Duzce University and Ph.D. in the industry at Sakarya University.
I also applied to study Political Science and International Relations at Sakarya University.
For as long as I have known myself, I have been doing research in libraries. I have always been interested in doing research, publishing, and other things, not only in my field but also in other fields. I went to various courses to be useful to my students.
I am an industrial engineer and labor safety is one of our field of study. At the university, we have studied these courses, but we need to deepen in order to teach something. Quality management system, food management, occupational health, and safety management system, I took all of them one by one by joining the training.
Düzce University had signed an agreement with Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Belarus, such as the Black Sea Region Cooperation. I was going to the meetings held in Istanbul to represent my university and I was monitoring the projects.
In 2013 and 2014, I went to Hungary at the University of Szeged as a visiting lecturer. I participated in many national and international meetings. I have 11 domestic and foreign articles. I was in the last period of my doctorate which I started in Sakarya and continued in Düzce.
I WAS BLACKLISTED BY MY UNIVERSITY AND MY VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN WAS OBSTRUCTED BY THE HIGHER EDUCATION COUNCIL OF TURKEY (hence Y.O.K)
I was always considering all the opportunities that I had before me. In 2015, I got accepted from Ahmet Yesevi University in Kazakhstan. But I could not go because the YÖK did not allow. Ahmet Yasevi University submits its announcements to YOK.
And the YOK announces such programs to the universities in Turkey. The university has also spread the words among its staff. I prepared my documents for application, I sent both the Higher Education Council and the university itself.
Ahmet Yesevi University has a center in Ankara. They called me for an interview. I went, the president himself made an oral interview and responded “all right, we accept you”. We look forward to hearing the decision from YOK.
In the meantime, I took out my passport, prepared the paperwork. A few meetings were held, and we even met with lecturers. However, YÖK did not give permission. My brother, who was a police officer, was detained in 2015. So his detainment led my blacklisting.
ON JULY 15, I WAS FLYING OVER TO POLAND FOR MY DOCTORATE INTERNSHIP
Since I was in the last semester of my doctorate, I applied to Poland Wroclaw University for a doctorate internship in 2016, I got accepted. I was going to Poland on July 15, 2016. My tickets were ready. A few days before my departure, I went to Adana with my family.
Within the thought of something might happen on the way, I was just saying goodbye to them, and something unexpected happened, a coup attempt took place night of July 15, 2016.
All the officers were called to return their work, so I did. I have acquainted my return with an official letter. I informed them that even though I had to be in Poland at that time to pursue my internship I did not go and I am back to my work as I was asked.
Because it was a holiday period, we usually went to university like 10.00. August 21, 2016, the head of the department called me early in the morning. It was around 7: 00-08: 00 am.
It was obvious that there was something wrong. The letter of dismissal was handed over me. When I asked the reason for this I was told that they don’t know the reason and that they are not even allowed to show me the decision paper.
It was such a shocking moment for me that I just wanted to get out of university. Even If I don’t leave, security comes over and get you out and until the further notice you are not allowed to enter the university.
hat’s why I wanted to get out. They’re hurting your honor, your pride. They’ve sealed our room and we couldn’t even get our personal belongings. By personal belongings, I mean our regular clothes…
Later on, I found out that there was also an arrest warrant under my name on the same day. I went home and stayed there for a week. There was no news from the university.
I was not aware of what was going on in there and this cluelessness was eating me up. A week later, on August 29, 2016, I went to the rectorate of the university. When I asked again the reason for my dismissal, I was told to wait to be interviewed.
TWO PROFESSORS WHO WERE APPOINTED BY THE RECTORATE QUESTIONED ME
I was waiting for an interview. They put security by my side. I left my car keys, everything to the security. The interview started, I call an interview, but they actually interrogated me. The Rectorate was assigned a room for disciplinary investigations, my interview took place in there.
For the first time, they were putting security on the door when someone was giving their testimony. Both in front and behind the door. Those who questioned me were two professors appointed by the Rectorate; İlyas Uygur and Haldun Müderrisoğlu.
They had 30-40 questions. They were trying to find out if I was connected to the Hizmet Movement. I had neither the Bank Asian account, the newspaper subscription, nor anything else. Not a single one, nothing at all… The interrogation continued this way.
Lastly, the dean of the engineering faculty asked me did you use Bylock? I did not use it and I’ve mentioned it repeatedly in every query that I didn’t use, but it was ignored.
In the court process, I saw how everyone has been blacklisted by the university. Highly classified documents were presented to the court by the university. Some blacklisted of having a Bank Asian accounts, some were given away by secret witnesses…
WHILE I WAS QUESTIONING THEY CALLED THE POLICE
When I left the interrogation room at the university, I saw 3-4 police officers waiting for me from anti-terror branch of the police HQ. Apparently, during my interrogation, my colleagues called the public prosecutor’s office and asked if there is any search warrant for me?
When they received the answer yes, they told the police that I was at the university. My colleagues did it! Can you imagine? Before my other colleagues, I was taken into custody at the university entrance accused to be a member of a terrorist organization. They did it hurting my honor, offending me.
IF YOU DECIPHER THE STRUCTURE OF THE HIZMET MOVEMENT IN DUZCE…
They took me to the hospital first, then to the police, and lastly to the main building of the Duzce provincial security directorate. There was no place in holding cells. Then, I was told that I would not see anyone for 5 days. I could stay there for 5 to 30 days. In the meantime, I might meet with my lawyer once.
On the fourth day, my statement was taken. A lawyer of the code of criminal procedure came down. Again the asked me similar questions. I said NO to all because I know myself.
They presented one cell phone number and asked, “Does this number belongs to you?” It was my number and I said yes. In return, they said, “Bylock app was used over this number, you are not sure if you have used it”. I was sure that I never used that mentioned app and I said NO.
One day later, I was taken to court. Criminal judge of peace told me following; “If you give a few names your punishment will be reduced.
You can benefit from effective remorse law if you decipher the structure of the Hizmet movement in Duzce. I said I have no knowledge of this and I did not do anything to confess. I told him that I never used the Bylock and I want to be released on conditions of trial without arrest. But, my effort was pointless.
YOU ARE ARRESTING ME DUE TO ALLEGATIONS YOU ARE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO SEE!
The judge asked me if I had the last word. I said, I do and said following; “What I could possibly be done as serious as to be withdrawn from my work and be arrested? What is my crime, I want to be informed of the allegations. In return the judge said, there are 8 files about you. How so! How could there be 8 files about me? I could not believe! These are university files, he added.
What are the mentioned allegations in the files? I asked. The judge said the files are classified, we are not allowed to see. Are you arresting me due to allegations you are not even allowed to see? The judge could not look into my eyes and arrested me over two crimes.
To eliminate the constitutional order and to become a member of the armed terrorist organization. On the same day, we were sent to Duzce Cilimli Prison. We stayed 27 people in wards for 9 people. People were laying over the ground.
MY NAMES APPEARED IN MISTAKENLY PREPARED BYLOCK LIST!
A few days later my family hired a lawyer. My lawyer asked me if I used Bylock, I told him I didn’t. I was released from prison after 7.5 months when police headquarters sent a letter saying that I did not use Bylock. A list of 216 thousand people was first prepared for those using Bylock.
Then this list fell to 90 thousand because of the mistake. My name appeared in one of those mistakenly prepared lists. If a person using a Bylock connects to a Wifi and you are connected to that Wifi, it is as if you have used Bylock.
That’s what it was. As a result, the prosecutor who arrested me released me with judicial control. But I spent 7.5 months in prison. Then the judicial control was lifted along with the limits in the bank.
I WAS ACQUITTED ALL THE ALLEGATIONS
In the meantime, I was dismissed from my job with an issued decree law No. 675, in October 2016. When I got out of prison, I applied to return to the university, but they did not consider my application.
It seems that someone from the universities had made a secret statement about me, and then told them that he didn’t know me. Therefore, the secret witness claim in my file has thus fallen.
When I was detained there was a book called Bediuzzaman and his unknown sides”. They took it. The judge said that organizational documents came out of your house. It was a book published by Nesil Publishing and the book was still on sale.
Since the Generation Publishing was not closed with the Decree, the judge accepted this objection. And in December 2018 I was acquitted of all the allegations about me. I’ve been on trial for two and a half years. I was acquitted. I thought I could have heaved a sigh of relief at last. But it never ends.
MY WIFE FILE A DIVORCE LAWSUIT, If I WOULD NOT GIVE WHATEVER SHE REQUESTED SHE WOULD TURN ME IN AS “FETO” MEMBER
But this time, my wife and her family began to see me as a traitor. After I was acquitted, she took the children away. She filed a divorce lawsuit. As a reason of the divorce lawsuit, it was written that ’Dismissal from his job for being a member of a terrorist organization, led psychological breakdown.
She demanded a lot of money for indemnity. I was making good money when I was an academician, but then I didn’t make any money … I applied to more than 40 factories. No one gave me a job. Lastly, I was starting to do the survey analysis to earn some money.
THE JUDGE WHO SAW THE REASON OF OUR DIVORCE, APPLIED TO COURT OF APPEAL
I had a few days between my wife’s case and my file in the Court of Appeal. When the prosecutor saw the reasoning in the divorce case, he appealed for disapproval of the acquittal decision.
My lawyer said the decision could be changed. Now I’ve been waking up every day with stress. My psychology became upside down, influenced by the thought that they might come at any time of the day to get me again.
One morning, the cops came, they said they were going to determine the address and income. There was a letter from the 11th Family Court in Istanbul. Of course, I’m afraid I’ll be arrested again. 7-8 times called to the police headquarters.
By the way, my wife and her family were constantly threatening me. They kept saying, “Either you pay 50 thousand Turkish Lira, and send 2500 Turkish lira every month, send the goods in the house, leave the custody of the children or I might go to the courthouse again to give new testimony.
We were married for 9 years. I have two daughters, one 3.5 and one 8. I want to talk to the kids. If you come, she said, she would give my name to the prosecutor’s office. She made the decision to suspend me and prevented me from seeing the children.
My wife’s, mother-in-law’s threats, they were supporting the ruling party, Justice, and Development, and they were sending some men from the party to treat me. I’ve had very hard and depressive days. I didn’t have a single night that I put my head on the pillow, stress-free, carefree.
I was seriously depressed and I was smoking 3-4 packs a day. This time before the trial of the case, my home was destroyed. I was so overwhelmed and decided to go abroad without even telling my parents.
THERE WAS ONLY 5 METERS LEFT BETWEEN ME AND GENDARMERIE
On March 19, 2019, I passed through Meric to Greece. But it wasn’t easy. In order to reach the riverside, we walked on a country road in Edirne İpsala side for miles. It was cold, foggy. We walk, but we don’t know where we were walking. The smugglers suddenly said that the gendarmes set an ambushed and there were only 5 meters left between us.
I had another family with me. So with a quick reflex, I throw my backpack away and started running. The gendarmes were shouting that we must surrender otherwise they would shoot us.
I didn’t stop, why didn’t I stop, I don’t know, with a reflex, the feeling of running in a moment woke. In normal occasions, I would just stop when I first hear the warning but back in that day I could not stop and kept running.
I CRAWLED OVER MY HANDS AND KNEES INSIDE THE SEWER MUD
I was running towards the fields. I don’t know how many people. The gendarmerie chased me for a while. After running a bit, a sewer came out in front of me. It was a big open-top sewer. I didn’t see the inside of course. I got down there and I landed in the slime to my knee as I landed and I fell face down. Meanwhile, I see flashlights.
THERE WERE INSECTS, FROGS, SNAKES, MICE ALL OVER THE PLACES
I thought I’d run out of the opposite side, but I couldn’t get my foot off the slime. I started to crawl. Maybe half an hour, maybe an hour in that slime and over my hands, knees, I crawled. It is hard to track the time down there, you do not know how much time has passed, and you kept losing time.
In front of me frogs, mice, snakes, insects are escaping to the left and right. It was a canal where you know the excavation (feces) and the water of the village goes to the river Meric.
After the sewer was going straight, it curled to the left. There was a place where the water had eroded. I stuck my back there, and I hid my body inside there. I hid there for 15-20 minutes.
I checked around regularly, I checked to see if there was anyone around. When I made sure there was nobody around, I continued crawling. But it was so hard to move on.
I was all covered with mud, dirt inside the sewer. I was wearing a coat to avoid being affected by the cold. You can guess what that jacket could turn into because of that slime and mud.
I WAS BEING ATTACKED BY THE DOGS THREE TIMES, THOUGHT THEY WOULD PULL THE PIECES OUT OF ME
I was finally out. I kept walking. My clothes all the dirt in the sewer and I’m freezing cold. I went back into the fields, and I’ve been lying on the ground occasionally because I see lights. After walking a little bit, a giant dog attacked me.
I had a pocket knife, a cigarette lighter in my inner pocket. I found the stick etc. I got rid of the dog. I kept moving forward. By the way, I lost my way, I don’t know how many kilometers and how many hours I walked.
This time we saw a lot of off-road in the area. Then, a shepherd dog attacked me. I thought he was going to tear me apart and it chased me down for more than 500 meters. I kicked him away with a light and a stick.
Still, I’m on Turkey side. I’m in the fields, I’m on the run, but I’m worried. Then a bunch of 5-6 dogs attacked me. I thought they would break me up this time.
I HAVE REACHED THE ZERO POINT
And now I’ve left everything. Because at that moment your adrenaline level raises and the fear leaves its place to the zero points. Worry, anxiety, fear, you don’t feel anything, I start ignoring whatever you say or see.
I’m shouting with these feelings and the stick in my hand with a reflex, with courage toward dogs. Or they will kill me, they will break me, I thought. After the dogs snarled for a couple of minutes, they got away.
After a while, I saw a building like a roadside room. I went there and I picked up the phone. The phone was working properly. There was a leather jacket under the thick coat, I put it in his inner pocket.
I called the smugglers, they came an hour later. There were a woman and a man in the car. They were surprised by how I escaped. Laptop in my backpack, the diplomas, they were all gone.
GENDARMERIE JAMMED IN AGAIN
The smugglers took me somewhere and told me to wait there. I didn’t trust them anymore, but there was nothing else to do. I had to wait. I went into the reeds, hiding from the outside. They told me that a car would come, and if somebody landed, I had to ride right away. A car approached and I did.
When we got to the road, the gendarmerie blocked the road. We turned right back, looked at the other side. We were trapped on both sides. We plunged into the fields again.
The driver didn’t know the way, the other guy on the passenger seat was describing the road. They stopped somewhere, turned off the headlights, changed places. Then we got over the gendarmes again.
I STARTED LOSING SENSE OF MY FOOT FINGERS
The smugglers took me to a house. I took a shower. They gave me very narrow and old clothes. I wore a 2-3 size small shoe, and now I’ve got a loss of feeling on my 4 fingers. I didn’t want to go anymore, I lost my hope, and maybe I was starting to think that I shouldn’t.
I’ve been thinking about it over and over again. They said we’ll try again in the morning. Last time I wanted to give myself another chance. There was a family with young children and everyone was worried.
We set off early and we walked quite a bit and then approached where we were going to cross. We were just about to arrive, and a battalion gendarme came up again.
The car turned back, and we again got over the gendarmes. We just went down to the edge of the river and crossed the boat. Of course, the shoe, clothes, and cold.
My lungs caught a cold there. Inflammation has started in my lungs. I still could not heal properly. We walked 6-7 km on the Greek side. I didn’t want to leave the family behind, they don’t speak any foreign language, and they have plenty of stuff to carry and little children.
Finally, the police took us all at the train station. The process of every refugee would face has started for me too. On 20 March we stayed in police headquarters, and in prison on 21-23 March. Then they sent us to the refugee camp.
I WAS SCARED TO DEATH UNTIL I GOT TO THE AIRPLANE
I was going to apply for asylum in Athens. They didn’t even make an appointment until 2025. I tried to fly from Athens to Germany with a false identity.
I got caught the first time. The second time I decided to try it from Crete. I came to Athens on Monday. Saturday ship to Crete, I flew from Crete in the morning on Sunday, but the officers stopped me several times until the plane.
The reason for pullover was that the bus was full, so there were no priority ones, so they stopped. I didn’t know why that was happening, but something was going on at the last minute.
Every time I was scared to death, and then I was taking a deep breath. It felt like as if those time last like a once lifetime. A few hours until I passed through the river, a day journey. It is all done now. But I feel like I lost lots of my life.
I’m in Germany now, I applied for asylum, and I’m staying at the camp for now. I have an interview today, I will talk about my journey.
I would like to learn German at a moment and continue my education here. It’s hard to start all over again, but after that tough journey, everything feels alright. I just miss my girls….
Zabit Kişi who was tortured for 108 days: I no longer find odd the ones who committed suicide
Zabit Kisi who is the one that no one heard about him for 108 days after being abducted was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment. The notes that he wrote about the 108-day torture appeared for the first time…
BOLD – After July 15, many of Erdogan Regime opponents were illegally brought to Turkey by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization. Zabit Kisi is one of them. Zabit Kisi who was living in Kazakhstan was brought to Turkey under the colour of being a member of the Gulen Movement by MIT (Turkish National Intelligence Organization).
On 30 October 2017, Zabit Kisi brought from Kazakhstan to Turkey then no one heard about him for 108 days. During this time, no information was given to her family and lawyers despite formal applications. The state did not accept the possession of the person.
With the initiative of his family in Kazakhstan; Kazakhstan Intelligence Presidency issued an official document indicating that Zabit Kisi was abducted to Turkey under the custody of MIT Officers via Turkish Airlines on 30 September 2017 with 23:32 Almaty-Ankara flight number TT-4010.
Thus, it was clear that Zabit Kisi had been under the custody of the authorities of the Turkish Republic.
His family tried to find him for 108 days. After 108 days, Zabit Kisi who lost 30 kilos appeared at the Ankara Courthouse with traces of torture on his body.
When Zabit Kisi appeared before the judge after 108 days, he was afraid of being murdered and demanded arrest. Even the prison was more preferable for him.
SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS AND 6 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT AND THE TORTURE WAS OBSCURED
After his arrest, Zabit Kisi took a large number of medicines. It took a long time to heal his wounds and resolve the loss of feeling in his hands and feet. After he recovered, he filed a detailed petition for all the tortures he had suffered and filed a criminal complaint.
The torturers and the evidence he submitted were not taken into account. Torture was not investigated. However, Zabit Kisi was sentenced to 13 years and 6 months of imprisonment last week on Friday, June 21, 2019.
When Zabit Kisi was sent to Kandira Prison, a criminal complaint about the torture he experienced was revealed.
108 DAYS IN CONTAINER
‘Zabit Kisi stated that he had been tortured from the moment he was handed over to MIT in Kazakhstan and that he had bled from his genitals for days because of a blow to his groin in the plane.
Zabit Kisi said that he was kept in a container for 108 days at a distance of 6 minutes by car from the airport that they landed in Ankara, and that he was stripped naked, given electricity to his body, left dehydrated for days, exposed to sexual abuse, beaten without interruption, watched while having toilet needs, injected drugs into his body when he was about the die, and then tortured again.
Zabit Kisi, who explained the torture in all its details, said that these people introduced themselves as MIT officials on the plane and that they turned over him to the Ankara Anti-Terror Teams in a place he did not know after 108 days of torture.
He told that: After he was turned over, a document was issued as if he had come to the Ankara Anti-Terror Building himself and then he was subsequently arrested.
Zabit Kisi’s statements coincide with those of those who were abducted with the black transporters and tortured for months. 28 people living in Turkey were abducted and kept in a secret torture center in Ankara. Likewise, more than 80 dissidents were also abducted to Turkey from abroad.
‘Zabit Kisi’s petition to the tribunal contains all of his 108-day sufferings and a criminal complaint against those who were responsible for what he had been through.
THE FULL TEXT OF ZABIT KISI’S TORTURE LETTER: I NO LONGER FIND ODD THE ONES WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE
“My name is Zabıt Kisi, I was taken into custody by the Kazakhstan authorities at the Almaty Airport in of Kazakhstan in line with the arrest warrant that was issued in connection with a number of allegations within the framework of the events that occurred on 15 July atrocious coup attempt. After the judicial proceedings made according to the Kazakhstan legal system, it was decided to return me to Kyrgyzstan.
I was taken into custody again on 30.09.2017 during my return from Kazakhstan Almaty to Kyrgyzstan. I was confiscated and confined to a room. About 22:30, when the aircraft runway completely empty, I was turned over to civilian-looking people coming from Turkey.
I was forcibly put on an airplane with a camouflage pattern that I couldn’t define without any information given and beaten by the people coming in. As soon as we got on the plane, they jumped on me. They pounded my head in while cursing me and my values. I was trying to figure out what was happening. They kept hitting my groin and my head. When I tried to ask something, I was made to shut up by saying ‘you will understand soon …’ with all other cursing words.
I was blindfolded, covering my nostrils. A sack was put on my head and my hands and feet were tightly tied with plastic handcuffs in a way that hurt me. The blows to my groin hurt me so much that I was moaning. I had a terrible headache and I had a hard time keeping my head up. My underwear, which was bloody because of the blow to my groin, was later destroyed. Blood came from my genital organ for days in my underwear.
When I got on the plane, I felt that my whole life fell apart. I didn’t know what was happening, I was defenseless, and I was in front of two murderous people who could do everything they want to me. The torture continued unabated. They wouldn’t even let me move. Although I repeatedly said that I had respiratory distress and discomfort due to the fact that I had a sack over my head and the blindfold which was attached to my nostrils. I told them to tear off the collar of my sweater, but in vain, they never got there. I lost consciousness because I was systematically beaten.
When I woke up, they kept swearing, ‘These will be the last breath you take …’ someone was trying to wake me up by slapping my face and tearing off the collar of my turtleneck sweater to make me breathe. He checked my pulse and called out to the other person, ‘No problem.’ I thought I was dead. Breathing, fainting, or anything else that these thugs care about. These people who told me that they were MIT officers said me that it was in my best to have a sack over my head and that if I saw them, it would be enough reason for them to kill me.
I remember the moment I told myself; ‘I am done in this life’. My God! What was going on, I didn’t understand what I did, who was I, what was I doing, what was the reason for all this torture?
My inability to answer these questions in my head sometimes caused me more pain than the blows I had received. My brain was about to explode, what did these guys want from me, and what was the reason for this relentless torture? They were eating and drinking coffee while I was moaning in pain. Thank goodness the plane was about to land. For a moment I was relieved that this torture would end and they would give me to law enforcement and judicial forces. But the torture was actually going to begin, and I was going to understand it in a short time.
When the plane landed on the runway and the engine was stopped, I was put in a car that I thought was a Transporter-style vehicle as I understand from the height of the seat spacing. I was handcuffed behind my back, blindfolded and there was a sack over my head while two people holding my arms. Approximately 6 minutes after departing, they brought me to a location near the airport which I later described as a container.
This was the container cell in which I was going to struggle to survive for 108 days. It was a place that did not have sunlight and it had a width of about 3 square meters, it was just enough for a person to turn around its axis, like a closed box without a window. This place was no different from the grave for me, the only difference was the damnation that started early.
As soon as we entered the place, they stripped me naked. I couldn’t bring myself to write the harassment they did and said to me on those moments. Two people grabbed my arms and quickly hit me to a wall-like place. Starting from the upper part of my body, they gave electricity to my feet and different areas of my body while increasing the voltage from time to time. In the sitting position, the soles of my feet were brought to downside up position and they crushed my fingers one by one. On the other hand, they continued to curses; ‘we will drive you to extinction, we will… your wife and you will not see her again…’
After a month, my fingers began to heal, and later on, my nails came out. In the sitting position, while my hands were handcuffed behind my back, they stepped on the handcuffs and applied pressure.
I had a hard time holding a spoon while eating food for a few days as the nerves were destroyed. I had to use the medication while I was in the penal institution because of the loss of feeling in my fingers.
When I was naked, they threatened me to rape and attempted to rape me with a hard object. “… boy, you here…, who will come and get you out of here, enjoy it,” they continued their curses.
In the sitting position, while two of them were holding my arms, they hit my back with a hard object and my rib cracked. Every time I breathed, I suffered a lot from the pressure that my ribs put on my lungs. I had severe respiratory distress and heart palpitations due to the fact that they wanted me to respond loudly while they were torturing me with a sack over my head even though I was breathing fast and deep with my mouth.
Again in the sitting position, while two of them were holding my arms, they pressed my head forward and they stepped on my back and applied pressure.
They tortured me accompanied by the music of Turkish national anthem, janissary music, folk songs, and İsmail Türüt’s folk songs. My patriotism is questioned, whereas no one can question the patriotism of others. I don’t remember how many times I have prayed that ‘My God, take my life and save me from these brutes.’ The reasons for death were more severe than death. My only escape from here was to die. I never imagined death would be so attractive to me. God, what these guys wanted from me, I couldn’t understand it, I still couldn’t understand it, I think I’m going to die without realizing it. Because no matter what the circumstances, in order to be able to do such ill-treatment and torture, one must be inhuman.
During the torture; “We are the judge and the prosecutor here, there is no lawyer, no police, you must accept everything to get out of here, do what we say, we torture as long as you don’t die, and we bury you if you die, you remain unsolved, If you do not accept, we will give you medicine from behind and mouth, we give you an injection that your death stays unknown even after the autopsy, they basically write ‘heart attack’ on your death certificate and so on” they said.
The teams were changing, but the torture continued unabated. For 108 days, they walked in three square meters of container cells with their casual shoes that they go to the toilet, and they made me lied on that unhygienic floor and slept. Because they watched me from the camera for 24 hours, they made me not to sleep as well.
Since they were watching me all the time, they did not allow me to lie down or sit down, I was awakened by shouting and loud music and I was forced to stand on my feet for long time periods. I had been using crutches in my daily life because I had bone erosion and fermented avascular necrosis.
They dragged me down on the floor like a dog by applying pressure on my neck while taking me to the toilet. Since I couldn’t settle properly on the squatting toilet with a sack over my head, they dishonored me by asking me to urinate and told me that ‘you will lick what you do outside of the toilet hole.’ They banged my head against the wall when I fail to what they said, whereas a person who sees what to do of course could not do such a thing. They were counting when I was trying to fix my toilet needs and they were getting me out before I finished my needs. They were taking me to the bathroom when they wanted to, not when I wanted to.
They did not allow me to brush my teeth for about 2.5 months, and they did not even allow me to rinse my mouth or rub my teeth with water. They deprived me of personal care. They let me take a shower when they started to feel uncomfortable because of the stench in my mouth and body. When they allowed me to take a shower, they sexually harassed me, especially by forcing me to turn my back towards them while I was naked. I was left naked in the cold also.
I couldn’t cut my nails for 2.5 months, I was forced to shave my pubic hair with bloody machines used by someone else, and they damaged my body due to problems in the machines. They didn’t content with the torture they did to me, they also threatened me with my wife and children who were living abroad. They said that; ‘they would harm them, rape them or abduct them with bribery then they would torture them as I suffer.’
They often repeated that I would be unsolved murder if I saw one of them. If I wouldn’t accept what they said, I was threatened with my mother and father in their 75s with health problems and I was told that I would never see them again. I was asked to report myself after they left me. They even said they could leave me to another country. In case of accepting what they wanted from me, they offered me to give a job in the public institution in a city that I want with a salary of 7-8 thousand TL and if there were any case opened against me or my wife, and they would remove my name from that indictment. They said that they had the authority to do all such things.
Life had no meaning for me. I was desirous of dying. I no longer found odd the ones who committed suicide. I was subjected to physical and psychological torture systematically for 108 days in a 3 square meters place which was like a grave where there was no sunlight. When they did not torture, I could hear the sound of people who were tortured and disabled in the other cells of the container. During this time, I lost weight from 105 kilos to 75 kilos.
Because of my health problems increased due to the torture I subjected to, they gave me drugs that they said were painkillers but I didn’t know what they were actually. In the first days, they did not even give water. There were times that they gave just a small plastic cup of water in a day. How many times I begged for water in vain! During the torture, I have repeatedly told them that I had Langerhans surgery, chemotherapy, femoral head avascular necrosis, an abrasion on my knees and extinction in my lungs but all my words were useless. They continued to increase the amount of torture.
I was having a hard time because of my health problems, but it seemed like they were enjoying the situation that I was in. The more I moaned, the more they tortured. His feelings of mercy seemed to be gone. I have already been experiencing many health problems after the torture. At first, my mental health deteriorated. Even though it’s been 7 months since what I had been through, I still wake up with nightmares at night. I don’t feel safe, I’m always nervous. I’m very afraid that such thing would happen to me again.
I still have health problems since I couldn’t breathe because of torture and a sack over my head. I didn’t know what happened. The effects of the torture that I had been through affected my psychology. I was staring around me with vacuity. They didn’t answer my questions like I wasn’t tortured for 3.5 months. They were acting like everything was normal. They confiscated and did not return the documents, that I had with me at the time of my abduction, which were ‘All the tests I have done between 2007 and 2016 due to Langerhans and femoral head avascular necrosis, the recipes I had received, the documents that contain the information about my family, the documents that contain the information of my children including their school report cards, and my bachelor’s degree diploma from Gazi University Kırşehir Faculty of Education.’
They said that they knew everything about me and that they flagged all my relatives, that they could never get a job in public service. They forcibly made camera shoots and asked me to say; ‘I had not been kidnapped from Almaty that I came voluntarily, I should not apply to the constitutional court, European Convention on Human Rights, and any similar institutions about my abduction, and I should not stir up a problem for them.’ They even said that; they would follow me throughout all my life and if I talk about what I had been really through, they would remove me from the penal institution and they would do the same things again. They were worried about the possibility of unearthing what they did to me.
They accused me such things that I wouldn’t mind. They accused me of being a CIA agent.
After 108 days, on 18.01.2019 at about 20.00 they turned over me to another team while I was blindfolded, handcuffed with plastic handcuffs and there was a sack over my head. The teams changed again. When the third team took over the sack and opened my blindfold, I saw the Ankara Justice Palace’s illuminated sign. I couldn’t look at the street lighting and the illuminated signs because it was disturbing my eyes, even in the darkness because I was held captive out of my will in the dim light since I was blindfolded for 108 days.
I was delivered to the address like a cargo package on a snowy evening. My pants fell off because of the excess weight loss. The team said that they were the Ankara Anti-Terrorist officers, then we went to the prosecutor and then to the Anti-Terror Building. They kept a record as if I had come and surrendered with my own will. As a person who doesn’t know Ankara, how would I find the Anti-Terror Building, as it was in a separate building from the Security Directorate?
When I looked in the mirror I saw that the number my grey hair and beard increased by 50%. I hardly recognized myself. During this period, between 30.09.2017 and 18.01.2018, my family and my lawyer did not hear from me. My mother was informed 20 days after my abduction because of the possibility of a nervous breakdown. Although my family repeatedly applied to the Prime Ministry Communication Center (BIMER) and the Ministry of Justice, no action was taken. There is case file information about me on Amnesty International’s system. As a result of the application to the Kazakhstan office of the United Nations by my family and lawyers, Kazakh officials issued a ticket as if I came to Turkey with my own will. My family and lawyers applied to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. If you control all border crossings and airports in Turkey, there will be no official record or camera images of me. There is no entrance seal on the related page of my passport that is in the judicial custody. If the Ankara Justice Palace building camera and MOBESE (mobile electronic system integration) records are checked on 18.01.2018, the team that turned me over will be seen on records. And also, if the camera records of the Anti-Terrorism Branch building is checked, it will reveal the fact that I did not come and surrender myself.
In the scope of the file numbered 2017 / 260E and executed by Kocaeli 5th High Criminal Court, I demanded my arrest in my statement that I gave on 03.04.2018 due to the issues related to my torture that indicate that I do not want to be murdered by unknown assailants. My petitions dated 18.04.2018 and 18.05.2018 numbered 2018/4774 in order to be brought to book those who tortured me before the spoliation of evidence were not put in the process. Before the evidence of crime is destroyed or obscured, all my 7 separate demands within the scope of the file were not put in the process which were request number 2018/4895 for the documents about my turn over to the Security Units dated 23.05.2018, the demands I need within the scope of the file 2018/2936 dated 23.05.2018, my demands for the matters I need within the scope of the file numbered 2018/5936 dated 27.06.2018, my demands for the matters I need before spoliation of evidence within the scope of the file numbered 2016/5937 dated 27.06.2018 supplement-1, and my demands for the matters I need before spoliation of evidence within the scope of the file numbered 2016/5938 dated 27.06.2018 supplement-2.
My life safety is still in danger. Because the ones who tortured me systematically, psychologically and physically for 108-day said to me that; “if I talk about what I had been really through, they would remove me from the penal institution and they would torture me again or I would be murdered by unknown assailants inside the penal institution. In this second time, I would have no chance compared to the previous one, even if I was evacuated, they would find me wherever I was and they would not leave me for a lifetime.” My abduction from Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan, 108 days of torture in a three square meter container cell, my ongoing experience with law enforcement, court process and penal institution.
I demand that the ones who brought me to Turkey be found and brought to justice. I demand that these persons who systematically torture me psychologically and physically for 108 days should serve their sentences before the crime and evidence of the crime are obscured. It has deeply hurt me to see that our country has not survived the scourge of torture in the 21st century by experiencing it painfully. In the hope of the arrest of those responsible and the bright days of our country, I respectfully request that the legal process under the jurisdiction of your court be initiated ex officio.
2nd Numbered F-type High-Security Closed Institution
Ayten Öztürk who survived The Secret Torture Center in Ankara: “I was tortured for 6 months”
Ayten Ozturk who abducted from Lebanon, brought to Turkey with a private plane, heavily tortured for 6 months in Ankara appeared in court and talked about her torture days for the first time.
It has been considered that there are 27 people who were abducted by Black Transporters to the secret torture center which is formed as Guantanamo of Turkey in Ankara. Ayten Öztürk is known as the first woman who was subjected to torture in there.
Because of being a woman, the tortures were turned into heavier forms, including sexual torture.
BOLD/EXCLUSIVE – Once taken into custody on March 8, 2018 in Lebanon Airport, delivered to the Turkish authorities by putting a sack over her head and brought to Ankara with a special plane, Ayten Öztürk appeared before the judge after more than a year and made a long defense about the torture she was subjected to in an unknown official institution in Ankara for 6 months.
Ayten Öztürk stated that the official detention date and place appears on papers that 28 August 2018 in Ankara Anti-Terror office but this did not reflect the truth, she was illegally taken to a detention center on March 13, 2018, and she was turned over to police at midnight in a wilderness after 6 months of torture.
UNKNOWN 6 MONTHS
Ayten Ozturk told about the 6 months of heavy torture in full details in the Istanbul Third Heavy Penal Court in a case that she was accused of DHKP-C membership. She also shared important information about the secret torture center in Ankara, which came up with black transporter incidents.
Ozturk stated that, on March 13, she was turned over to the Turkish authorities by Lebanese officials while her eyes were blindfolded and she was brought to Turkey with a private plane. She stated that she had been kept in an official apartment that she did not know and had been tortured continuously for about 6 months from 13 March 2018 to 28 August 2018.
Ozturk’s 12-page defense in court has great details about the torture that is also similar to the statements of the people who were kidnapped by MIT (Turkish CIA) with Black Transporters. Up to the present time, 27 people have been kidnapped related to the cases about the Gulen Movement. Survivors stated that; there were other tortured people, some of them may be Syrian Kurds.
Ayten Öztrük’s family is Syrian Arab origin citizens of the Republic of Turkey. Öztürk who is a university graduate was living with his family in Hatay, then lived in Syria for a while after Lebanon. After aggravated circumstances, she was trying to go to a European country, but she was detained at the airport in Lebanon and turned over to Turkey without complying with the formal procedures.
“THIS PLACE IS THE BACK OF BEYOND”
Ozturk subjected to heavy beatings, electricity, sexual and psychological tortures after brought to Turkey with a private plane. Hundreds of wounds have occurred on her body due to the tortures and she lost weight till she was 40 kilograms. Öztürk who was tortured by people who stated that they were educated about human anatomy told that she was about to die many times and she was treated by a special team then again tortured. Öztürk stated that the torture team named the place as ‘the back of beyond’ (Turkish translation: the very deep place of Hell). She thinks that the place was the basement of an official apartment because she was hearing women heels’ voices from upstairs when the working hours started.
Ayten Öztürk who was kept naked in front of the torturers still has the traces of tortures like strappado, falanga, force-feeding. Moreover, her sexual areas forced with a nightstick, she was kept in a box called coffin, her fingers were burned and kept in water until the limit of drowning. She presented all the details of the torture in her defense to the court and made the whole process recorded.
Öztürk is the only woman known to have been kidnapped and taken to the torture center in Ankara during the state of emergency. Öztürk was subjected to different torture methods compared to the other victims because she was a woman. Especially in menstrual periods. Öztürk heard the sounds of torture, shouting and crying coming from the cells next to her, also heard that the torturers said to those who were tortured in the side cells: “Should I bring your brothers”
MUSTAFA OZGUR GULTEKIN’S LETTER WAS PRESENTED TO THE COURT
In the hearing held at Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court with the case number 2014/105; Lawyers of Halkın Hukuk Bürosu (Citizens’ Law office) submitted the letter sent by Mustafa Özgür Gültekin who was the employee of the Competition Authority and he was kidnapped in Beştepe Ankara on 21 December 2016. Lawyers indicated that: Gultekin, who was kidnapped after his name mentioned in the Gulen Movement investigation, was tortured in the same place as Ayten Ozturk, They requested an investigation within the framework of the submitted letters and documents.
CONTINUATION OF DETENTION
Ozturk who was defended by the lawyers of Citizens’ Law office seemed quite exhausted at the hearing. She stated the health problems and the drugs that she will have to use for a lifetime long due to the torture. Ayten Ozturk, who said that; ‘she was able to survive with the help of her ward friends’, demanded evacuation.
The court composed of three judges and two of them were women decided to continue the detention and adjourned the hearing to 3 November 2019.
Ayten Ozturk’ defense in full text that was recorded in the 3rd High Criminal Court is a historical record that shows there is systematic torture in Turkey. The full text of the defense, which has very shocking information, is as follows:
THE FULL TEXT OF THE DEFENSE OF AYTEN ÖZTÜRK
I was released after I made my first defense on this case on September 10, 2018, through Sound and Vision Information Technology System (SEGBIS). However, after my case in Ankara merged with this case, I started to be jailed pending trial again.
The main reason for a lawsuit against me in Ankara was the fact that I was wanted from my case in Istanbul, which I was not aware of. My release from the Istanbul trial also eliminates the reasons for Ankara Case’s arrest warrant. But still, in a meaningless way, my imprisonment continues.
I’m going to answer all the claims about me for both of the cases, but first I want to tell you what I’ve been through until I get here. I’ve been looking for an authority that I can tell what I’ve been through for about a year. Every time I tried to tell, I was blocked and ignored. However, facts cannot be concealed or covered, and they emerge in the long run. Therefore, I demand what I will tell now to be recorded.
What I’m going to tell you is about my arrest that was a fictional scenario after I had been tortured for six months in a secret place, illegally and illegitimately. What I’ve been through is inhuman and unlawful in all aspects.
The date of my detention in the Ankara indictment is August 28, 2018. This is the official date recorded in the police records. However, I was unofficially tortured in a secret place for six months before August 28. Therefore, the date in the custody record is incorrect and false.
I was detained on 8 March 2018 by Lebanese authorities in the Lebanese airport. When I was in custody, a person called “Kadri” from Turkey Consulate spoke to me and took photos of me with his phone. After this meeting, the Lebanese authorities dishonorably searched my belongings repeatedly. There were no criminal elements. The reason they kept me in custody was that I was carrying a passport that I bought from smugglers and belonged to someone else. I was living in Syria for ten years. I wanted to go to Europe by obtaining a passport that I could go to without a visa because of the war conditions in there.
The Lebanese authorities said they would release me. But on the evening of March 13, they took me to the airport in a hurry. I was taken there with my eyes blindfolded and my hands were handcuffed behind my back. When we arrived at the airport, they opened my hands and eyes in the car. It was a private entrance to the airport. They rushed me to a blind spot. The people whose faces I did not see there blindfolded me quickly and put a sack on my head. They handcuffed my hands from behind. They rushed me on a plane in a torturing way with the same speed and panic. I knew from the quiet operation of the plane that it was a private plane.
I was brought to Turkey from Lebanon after about 1-hour journey. When I was being taken off the plane, I tried to shout that I was kidnapped and who I was. Because of this they taped my mouth shut and closed it by using their hands. They closed my mouth as tightly that they prevented me from breathing. They rushed and pushed me somewhere aggressively after a distance of about 15 steps after landing. The same people quickly opened my handcuffs at the place we entered, and forcibly stripped me naked with torture. Then they dragged me while I was naked and they threw me into a padded cell. I was still blindfolded. They threw into room two pieces of clothes.
I waited for a while with my hands were handcuffed behind my back and blindfolded. Again they aggressively opened my door and quickly they put me in a place that was six steps away. They put me on a chair and went out.
A voice that cannot pronounce the letter “R” in the room; “Welcome, Ayten. We know you. We want to learn a few things from you. Actually, we know everything but we want to get it confirmed. Will you talk?” he asked. I had nothing to tell them.
A person, I thought he was middle-aged, was speaking very proper Turkish. “Look, nobody will talk to you but me. It’s just you and me in this room. No cameras, what we talk about will remain between us. Then you go out.” he said.
When I said I wouldn’t talk again, with a harsher tone; “I have been given infinite authority over you. This state used a private plane for you. This place is unlike any other place. Everyone here does their job professionally. You can’t get out of here if you don’t talk. We make you suffer for months and years. We do not harm your body integrity. Will you talk?” he asked. I told him that I would not speak under any circumstances, especially such a place where I got tortured by people that I did not know.
The interrogator said; “This is not a police station or a prison, there is no time limit. There is only God and us here. We do whatever we want.” When I told him I wouldn’t talk again, they put me back in the cell.
For about 25 days, my hands were handcuffed behind my back and I was blindfolded. There was also a sack on my head. In the beginning, I couldn’t detect the intervals at which they open the door. I was pushing my brain in order not to lose my sanity or lose consciousness. I could count the days according to the opening and closing of the door. I knew it was morning when they tried to force breakfast. Twice a day the door was opened to give me food forcibly and three times to take me to the toilet. They were trying to force me to eat. The first days I was just drinking water. They gave me a glass of water when they took me to the toilet. Sometimes they didn’t give it at all. In the tiny cell, I was suffocating with the sack on my head, and having difficulty breathing. My mouth, throat, and nose dried up from thirst. Sometimes my nose was bleeding, and the blood was accumulating on my hands and face then it was getting dried.
Except for the toilet, my hands were handcuffed all day. I was blindfolded even when I was in the toilet. I had pain, swelling, and numbness in my arms because of the handcuffs. There were wounds on my wrists. Although I was taken to the toilet blindfolded, I realized that the door was halfway. When I said, “you can see me!” They shoutingly said, “Yes, if we want.” Every moment there was turned into torture. “There is no such thing as honor, morality, decency here. All of these remained outside”, they were shouting.
At first, I was questioned by the person who could not pronounce the “R” letter almost every day. In one of the interrogations, the interrogator removed the sack from my head. I was still blindfolded. The interrogator saw the blood that was accumulating in my nose and flowing to my mouth. The blood on my hands was dry, my wrists were inflamed. It was probably the end of the first month. It was the first time that I was able to wash my mouth and nose while I was blindfolded again. I knew I smelled awful. But I didn’t want to bathe there either. I didn’t want anything from them. This made them even angrier. The interrogator said; “There are no lawyers, judges, prosecutors. If you die here, no one will hear. Nobody will care. Already no one asks about you. They gave up on you. There will be no official record about you.
Especially in the 90s, I knew that dozens of people were kidnapped and murdered in our country. They could have done the same to me. But I believed the part; ‘no one is questioning about my absence.’
One night they left me dehydrated then I felt faint. I heard some sound from my cell. I knew it was a camera. I was being watched for 24 hours. They forcibly intervened with me in the morning. I was blindfolded, my hands cuffed, they took me to the infirmary, not far from my cell. They tied my arms and legs with a flexible elastic band and gave me serum. They also tried to open my eyes. About 25 days my eyes never opened, my eyelids were stuck. They opened my eyes with a liquid. I couldn’t look at the light. At first, I saw those who treated me. They were wearing balaclavas. Only their eyes were visible. The infirmary had two chairs and medical supplies. I heard the voice of a woman for the first time outside the infirmary. She was talking to someone as if she were organizing something. She told that; “The commission will come, so we should…” or something like that. From both this woman’s speech and the footsteps on the upper floor of the cell, I conjectured it was an official institution. The official basement of this official institution, which I don’t know where it was, was the torture center.
After the treatment, psychological torture continued. The interrogator said, “If you do not agree to take a bath, they will wash you with a hose and a brush. We are doing everything to you by force”. The place they call as the bathroom was next to the toilet. it was covered with a thin curtain. They were watching me there. They turned my menstrual periods into torture, just like the bathroom. They were giving me menstrual pads one by one and telling me immoral words. It was the place where humanity ended.
Sometimes there were sounds of torture during the day and sometimes at night. Screaming, crying sounds were coming up closely. It was always male voices. Usually, “Are you going to talk or should I call your brothers? Do you want your brothers with you? If you want to get out of here, talk… ” kind of sentences I was hearing. I don’t know how many people were in custody there. But I guess that there were seven cells from the doors’ opening and closing sounds. I had no contact with the people in custody there.
Presumably, they opened my eyes in my cell and handcuffed my hands from the front in the second month. They were taking me to the toilet by holding my arms and they were harassing me at every opportunity. I was all the time blindfolded and sacked when I was taken from the cell to the toilet, interrogation or infirmary.
When my eyes opened in the cell, I could see what kind of cell I was in. I want to describe the cell. My cell was covered with a gray carpet. The camera was in the upper right corner. The walls were about two meters high. On two opposite walls, there was a plate-sized vent. Air conditioning was a ventilation system. The cell was about 1.5 x 2 meters in size. At the top of the door, there was a gap with about one hand span sized grille. With the spotlight installed there, a part of the cell was illuminated. The inside part of the door was covered with carpet. When I knocked on the door, there was no sound. The floor was covered with the sponge. I thought that the place was the basement of an official apartment because I was hearing women heels’ voices from upstairs regularly when the working hours started.
It had been about 2.5 months. My body had wounds, my skin was flaking. I was rapidly weakening. They were mistreating forcibly and making medical tests on me many times. Because of my wounds, they were forcibly applying a gel to my whole body and telling me immoral words also.
After the last intervention, the interrogator, who could not pronounce the letters “R”, referred me to someone else. He said that the person he referred me was an authorized person and he would make the final decision about me. By doing so, they implied that they would resort to brute force. That’s what happened. Every time that door opened, it was the torture time. “You’re going to get wasted here, does it worth? Who will know you resisted. What happens when you shut up? Nobody cares about you! You f.cking crap.” They were shouting at me.
The air conditioner sometimes gave cold and sometimes warm air to my cell. Sometimes they also smelled cigarettes in my cell. A couple of times they gave in to cell cold weather for about half a day. I was freezing. When they gave very hot air, I was sweating and having trouble breathing. Sometimes they played 6-7 hours of loud music. Played music; Marches praising Turkishness, percussive and loud foreign songs, emotional Turkish songs and folk songs.
Psychological torture continued every day. Those who opened my door daily: “The state supports us. We have all kinds of equipment here. If you have broken parts, we will get it in a plaster cast. If you have a problem with any part of your body, we can heal it. We make you feel every pain and continue to torture in sessions. There’s no end to this. This place is hell. You have no chance to get out of here. We know all about human anatomy. We work professionally. You don’t die, but you beg to die. One day, If you get a chance to get out of here, we do not know if you would have your sanity.” they said.
My guess was that the people who opened my door were working in two shifts. In both shifts, one was very aggressive and the other one was trying to convince me. But they couldn’t wait to torture me physically because they were threatening me every day. From the voices, I understand there were 10 of them. Most of them were speaking proper Turkish. A few people were speaking with the Anatolian dialect. I could tell from the voices that they were doing the cleaning job in there.
The so-called interrogator, who said I would stay there for so long, instructed the torturers to do whatever it takes to feed me. After this instruction, they took me blindfolded to the interrogation room. They spread my arms and handcuffed my wrists to the rings on the wall. While one of the torturers was giving me electricity to my hands, fingers, and to various parts of my body with a device, the other one was trying to open my mouth and make me drunk a feeding liquid. They put hard plastic in my mouth and tried to give food with a plastic hose. I had sores in my mouth and lips. Then they took the hose out, pulled my hair from behind and gave the food while my head was pulled. I had trouble breathing, I was nauseous. My whole body was soaked from sugary fluids and got sticky. During these tortures, I stayed for about a month with the dirt and smell of that liquid food. After the liquids, the torture of forced eating was also done with hangers, electricity, and threats.
After a while, they started physical tortures to make me talk. I will summarize the endless torture sessions that lasted about twenty days.
The first days, torture sessions were in the mornings and evenings. Later they were late at night. During the rest of the day, they were constantly subjected me to psychological torture, harassment, and they were making me stand still for hours.
I was taken to the torture room while I was blindfolded. They were machining me naked first, then they handcuffed my hands to the iron rings on the wall in a hanging position. Almost every part of my naked body was pressed and held for a while with an electrical device. When they did this to me, my whole body was shaking, and I was screaming with all my voice. They were doing it over and over again until I got knocked out. Everywhere they pressed my body with that electrical device, two spots like slits were formed on the pressed area of my body. There were wounds that were 2 cm among them. When I was arrested and came to prison, my friends counted the bruises on my body. There were 898 bruises. When I got fainted, they were taking me to the bathroom and continuing to torture me with pressurized water. They were torturing for hours with water. One was spraying me with pressurized water, and the other was holding the sack on my head to fill water. They also used that electrical device during the drowning torture. Sometimes they took the sack out of my head and opened my eyes and they were spraying water in my mouth and nose. At one point the door was accidentally opened. I saw a person without a mask on his head. He was tall, thin, 45 years old, thin-long face, with a ball beard, glasses, grey-haired person with small eyes. When he realized I saw him, he quickly closed the door and left. They increased the torture because I saw him. They tortured me with water for about five hours. During the rest of the day, they kept me in the cell or in a coffin-shaped box while I was standing in it for hours.
It was impossible to move in the place called a coffin. In the cell, at every opportunity, they were opening the door and there were brutal beatings, threats, and swearing. At least twice they beat me very brutally, especially they hit my face and head. There was an electrical device that they give me electricity from my pinkies and toes. They tied a metal ring to my fingers (taped) and they were controlling the amount and duration of electricity with remote control. I fainted a few times and couldn’t stand up. When they stop the electricity, they were resuming the torture by abusing my body with their hands and nightsticks. They were trying to put nightstick into my genitals and doing all kinds of wickedness
They also threatened to rape me with a thick stick, which they called “Harbi”. My feet got swollen as stovepipe from standing. They were hitting them with sticks and batons. Then I was getting subjected to falanga torture. They threatened to break my toes with pliers. They put something sharp under my three fingernails and burned my pinky. The wound on my finger and the inflammation on my fingernail didn’t heal for months. From time to time they turned me upside down, hanged me upside down while my feet were tied. Meanwhile, they were hitting my feet. When my body lost her strength and I felt sick, they put me down then they were doing different tortures. For example, there were attempts to rape me with a stick while they made me sit in an inflatable wheel. Especially when I got my period, they increased the severity of torture and deprived me of sleep.
Once, they held the pad tapes on my face and made me wait for hours until my stomach became nauseous. “This is nothing, we have more technological methods. We will give you chemicals if necessary …” they said. One day, when I was hanged, they injected me something that I didn’t know. They were calling one person as “Devrim” who was present at every stage of tortures, the other one was called as “Hacı”.
One day they opened my eyes in the torture center. They were all dressed in black, they were wearing black masks. There were 5-6 people inside. The torture chamber was about 2.5 x 4 meters wide. There were two iron rings on the opposite wall. There were blood and stains on the wall. One part of the room was two steps high, there was an office desk in this part. There was a picture of Atatürk in soldier clothes, a chair, and a small table. There were whip, truncheon, stick, pliers, and a device similar to the gun they used to give electricity and two spot lamps on that small table.
For a moment, they gave me a mirror. My face was livid, black and swollen. There were bruises all over my body. In this state, they told me that: they are humanistic people and I should cooperate with them. They said to me; “We’d give you as much money as you want, we’d send you where you want to live, an identity, but you should cooperate with us first.” When I told them I wouldn’t talk to them again, they hanged me and started flogging me.
They said that they would increase the volume of torture every day and apply different forms of torture. Even though I didn’t have anything to tell, they hit my head against the wall and they shouted to me: “take out whatever you have in your head, what motivates you? Take out the things that motivate you.” They were pulling my hair and throwing me around. Some of my hair was leaving lumpy in their hands. “If we want, we can scalp you,” they said. I had bruises and swelling on my forehead, nose and all over my head.
Once again, they injected a serum and applied a cream-gel on my body and face. As far as I remember, I had the serum for three days. “We treated you to torture more.” They said. This treatment lasted about twenty days. During this time, two people in the torture room, masked, short, old, in suits and with ties, were checking the wounds on my body daily. There were 5-6 others with them. They were all staring at my body. But two elderly people seemed to be in charge. Again, they were threatening me about if I would speak or not on a daily basis.
Presumably, it was the twentieth day of treatment torture. They took me to the interrogation room again with my eyes closed and handcuffed. The last interrogator who spoke to me said, “Your time here is over, you will go anyway, let’s talk if you want…” When I said I wouldn’t talk again, he said, “We will turn you over to police. Don’t think of anything else. You will rot in prison.”
Then they took me to my cell and gave me my own clothes. They handcuffed my hands from behind with plastic handcuffs and blindfolded my eyes. I was put between two people in a car with a high stair, with opposite seats and the door was opened by pulling to the side. They put a headset on my ears with a motorcycle sound. About an hour later the car stopped. They took me out of the car and we carried out a few steps. Afterward, they cut my plastic handcuffs behind my back and opened my eyes. Then they got away in a haste. It was pitch dark, I noticed the stuff they left in front of me. A few seconds later, someone surrounded me. They quickly approached with the light in their hands and started asking questions. “Who are you, what’s your name?” kind of questions… We were in an open field, a high place. In the distance, the lights of the city seemed like spots. I didn’t answer their questions. They acted as if they found me there. Someone who has combed hair, united eyebrows and dark-skinned held my arm. He told them to search my belongings like a theater play. The others played their roles by doing what he told. The same person showed me his identity and said, “I am a TEM (Anti Terror Police) officer in Ankara”. They put me in a van. They called me by my name. “We detained you as you are Ayten, isn’t your name Ayten?” he asked. I understood that the police were in cooperation with those who tortured me and I did not answer them.
The date I was taken by the police from that open field is 28 August 2018. Fake detention minutes were kept as if the torture sessions of the previous six months had never happened.
Can Ankara TEM police claim that they did not know who tortured me and detained me for six months? Doesn’t the Ankara TEM police have a share by hiding what they know about the tortures that I subjected to?
What could I possibly do in an open field that I don’t know with 40-kilogram body weight and hundreds of bruises all around my body and while hardly standing on my feet? What could I do there alone at night, even though I didn’t know Ankara and I didn’t even have any Turkish money on me? Moreover, the TEM police, who saw the items in the bags in front of me in shambles and some of them shattered, could still claim that they had taken me as a result of a delation? There is nothing legitimate, and rational about this scenario made up as if they found me there. No one can believe this irrational scenario. If I had been wanted, which I didn’t know, why didn’t official proceedings take place? Instead, I was abducted and tortured?
I’ve been receiving treatment for months because of the torture. My treatment process, the damages that occurred on my body, the drugs I use are in my prison health file. There are still some scars on various parts of my body. Myolysis causes weakness in my arms and legs, and sometimes I feel numbness. The pain of the swollen areas still continues due to the strong blows I have received on my head. Due to chronic asthma, Mediterranean anemia and nodules in my goiter, I have to take lifelong medications and have regular controls. Since I couldn’t sustain my life by myself, my friends staying in my cell help me to meet my needs. As a result, the wounds on my body were healed despite some medications that I had to use for a lifetime; but the wounds in my soul will never be healed.
After three days of detention in Ankara TEM, I wanted to tell the prosecutor and the Magistrate about the torture and what I had been through. Even though I couldn’t stand with my bruises and my thin body, they didn’t look up and ask ‘what happened to you?’ They said, “That case is not our issue.” They didn’t concern and ask a single question. “File a criminal complaint,” they said.
I filed a criminal complaint while I was in prison. The prosecutor nonsuited the complaint in a short time. The reason for nonsuit is that I’m on the list. There are dozens of intellectuals, artists, anti-imperialists, and anti-fascists on the lists in this country. There are people who have revolutionary, democratic ideas. To be on a list is very easy just one needs to be wanted from a simple case.
Mother, get up! You’ve come this far, are you giving up?
Fired through the emergency decree, search warrant, days spent hiding, passing through the River Meric, refugee, and Germany… This is an unusual story of an ordinary family.
The process of July 15 caused trauma to children. Both the prisoners and the refugees who passed through the River Meric experienced different difficulties. They had unforgettable memories and pain.
Children who had to grow up in their small age told each other stories in the European camps instead of fairy tales and gave their parents the strength to stand and resist.
The Yapraklı family’ s story, who passed through the river Meric with their 5 and 7-year-old children was unforgettable.
WE COULD NOT BELIEVE WHEN WE LEARNED THE ACCUSATION ABOUT US
Zeynep Yapraklı: We were an ordinary family living in Zonguldak. I am a housewife. We were married in 2009 with my husband Ahmet Yapraklı. We have two kids. My son Hamza is 7, and our daughter Elif Betul is 5 years old. After 15 July, as if we did the coup attempt, our life changed completely. That evening, we were in our house and having tea together. As usual, my husband had come from work, we had dinner. We didn’t understand what happened at that time.
My husband was working as an inspection officer in Zonguldak Trade Provincial Directorate. At the same time, he was teaching international trade at Zonguldak Karaelmas University. He was an officer for five years and fired after the coup attempt. Zonguldak Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a warrant about him with 3 files.
The accusations were being the member of an armed terrorist organization, attempting to abolish constitutional amendments, counterfeiting official documents, and directing public institutions and organizations! We didn’t know what to do when we saw the claims.
THEY OFFERED BRIBERY, AND I REJECTED
Ahmet Yapraklı: “Bribery incidents are happening in the customs. I was a new officer. It was offered to me, but I did not accept it. A company brought scraps. They said they got car parts which were broken and sturdy. The government did not take tax on the broken stuff, but the others had to be paid tax. We applied a penalty of 160 thousand TL to the company based in Ankara. Two people came from Ankara, “You are an officer, how much is your salary? We will give 70 thousand TL to you,” he said. Of course, I did not accept it.”
Zeynep Yapraklı: “My husband started living away from home for a while after his arrest warrant was issued. Why would he go to jail? He was not guilty. We were meeting each other from time to time, but then it became a nightmare for us.
I couldn’t stay alone with my kids in Zonguldak. Six months later, we went to where he was located. After about two years, it was becoming difficult for both of us to stay in Turkey. We were afraid to go out. In June 2018, we decided to go abroad. We had only one way; the River Meric.
On June 31, 2018, at 09.00 we set off from Ankara to Istanbul. After 6 hours, we met our fellow travelers in Istanbul. There were two other people with us. We didn’t know them, and we didn’t even know their names. We gave smugglers money where we met.
WE WERE ON AN ISLAND INSTEAD OF GREECE
Ahmet Yapraklı: We set off after paying. They left us somewhere in Edirne. The smugglers said they were going to inflate the boat and left. About an hour passed. We were worried. Then they came and said that the pump was broken while the boat was inflating. Then, we started to drive by the river.
There was another car ahead of us. We passed the car, but it kept coming after us. The driver who was worried about the car made a left turn to the opposite direction of the River. The car came back from behind us.
I look at my back. The car was coming. I told to the driver to go fast. Now, the vehicle didn’t come behind us, and after we waited a little while, we got to the border again.
WE DRAGGED ALONG THE RIVER FOR 40 MINUTES
The smuggler said that he had a guide next to the boat, waiting for us to help cross the river. We walked for 5 minutes to the boat. It was easy after that. We were on the boat. We drifted down about three miles down about 40 minutes. Then the guide said he could not get to the shore.
I helped him by holding the branches, and we got to the shore. The guide would leave us there. We argued, and I said that I would not let him go. I called a friend who helped us get to the road. He said;” According to the map, it looks like that they have left you on an island.” The place where we stepped was a very bad,rugged area. Destroyed trees, thorns, mud… It had been raining for a week and it was wet, and water flow was increased. The guide tried to show the way, but he was a novice.
WE GOT IN THE WATER WITH THE CHILDREN
Because the forest was a common area, we could not see ahead of us. We started to discuss and yell at each other. Anyway, I decided to find the road myself. We came to the river, and I realized that we were on a really small island.
My friend led us to the top of the island where the river shrank, but it was difficult to walk. I was opening the road, and my kids and my wife were coming up behind me. The guide was also at the back. I went up a little further and went into the water. I was measuring the depth with the stick in my hand. The water came up somewhere on the chest. Then, I took one or two more steps and went back to the waist level. I took one kid on my shoulder. My wife took the other one on her back. We entered the water together.
OUR DAUGHTER FELL TO THE RIVER
We crossed the water at last. We began to gather and walk. We took another 10-15 steps, and we came back with water again. That was the moment we gave up. My wife begged for me to wait until morning.
I went into the water again with the same tactic. The depth was up to the waist. In the same way, I took the children to our backs and gave the bags to the guide. We had a supply bag. I was holding it for the kids.
We were scared when it became deep suddenly. Children were panicked, and my wife staggered. My daughter, Elif Betül, fell into the water. We caught immediately and landed in a ravaged state. Both my wife and the children were crying. My little kid was screaming that we were going to die there. It was hard. Thanks to Allah. We succeeded at last.”
I WAS ASHAMED WHEN MY SON SAID; “MOTHER, GET UP! YOU’VE COME THIS FAR, ARE YOU GIVING UP?”
Zeynep Yapraklı: “We had passed the second water, but I had no power to survive. I crouched down and started crying. I was a bit confident in a life vest, but I could not walk in the water. My seven-year-old son said, “You can’t give up. You have come this far. Get up, be strong. I feel very bad when you cry.”
We walked for about an hour and we got under the tree. We were close to a village, I guessed. I put nylon under the children and covered them with a blanket that remained dry even though we went into the water. The kids slept until morning.
I FELT THAT I WAS A REFUGEE
Then as soon as we set off, two cars came and picked us up. It was such a long night as if it lasted years. I could say we rested in the supervision.
The Greek police’ s approach was good. They asked whether we were hungry and thirsty. But their way of taking us to the Police Situation was bad. That moment I felt I was a refugee. They put us behind a car with no lights. There were a few small holes on the top of the car for air. the inside of the car was very dirty. When that iron door was closed, we got worse.
I WAS ALSO FIRED. I WAS PROFESSOR
Ahmet Yapraklı: We came under the tree. There was Edirne on the right and Greece on the left. I said we had to walk to the left, but the guide said it was right. He had seen a hut 200 meters ahead. It was at four o’clock.
We started at around 23:00 and ended the trip at 4:00. We were waiting for the sun to rise. There was a station nearby, and we decided to take the train to Thessaloniki. The sun was born. We had a snack. The weather warmed up, we dried the things up a bit.
I thought the guide would be back. He said; “I was also fired. I was a professor at the university. I was surprised. I would drown the man or strangle. I asked why he didn’t tell me. The smuggler had told him, “I told you as a guide or they will not take the boat.”
We went on the road. After 100 meters, the Greek police came. We explained the situation. We said we escaped from the Erdogan regime. They took us to the station and we were in custody. There were 5 beds. Everybody just went to sleep. Sometimes, the police were coming, asking for something. We understood each other difficulty. A few hours later, someone who speaks Turkish came up.
ARE YOU TERRORISTS?
’I came for you,‘ he said. When he saw our station, he began to mock with the slander “terrorist”. He joked; ‘Now, are you terrorists? Did you leave bombs in Turkey.’ Our fingerprints and photos were taken. Due to tiredness, we were like “wanted” in the photos. “You’re going to the camp.” the interpreter said. They took us to the camp 10 minutes away with a closed car.
IT WAS LIKE A ZOMBIE FILM
The car stopped, and we went down. There was a place like the police station. There were fences up to the ceiling. People climbed on the fences and wanted something by handing out. There was cigarette smoke everywhere. It was like a movie scene. I felt like I was watching zombies. I thought we could not get out of there.
We went inside; high walled place, dark, no light. I was stunned when someone said welcome. “I’m Ahmet, I’m Turkish,” he said. He showed me and my wife a bunk bed. We chose the bunk closest to the door. My wife was going to start crying with fear. This time, a woman said welcome.
WE FORGOT THE HORRIBLE NIGHT IN 10 MINUTES
There were completely Turks in the ward. The reason of all for escaping was the same as ours. They had been there for 3 days. We greeted and hugged. Our morale was fulfilled. We started the conversation. they ordered coffee in the canteen hour. I forgot everything about the horrible night in 10 minutes. I met my beloved friends after 2 years. My wife got well.
In the evening, my wife and the children slept early. We talked with friends until late hours. The bunk beds were covered with cloth and cardboard. Every family created their privacy. There was a prayer rug at the top of a bunk, and people prayed in order. There was something like a flashlight that was used while going to the WC. In the morning they said everyone would leave during that day. I was glad to hear it and thanked Allah.
THE BATHROOM QUEUE IN THE UN CAMP
They took us to the United Nations camp. There were the washing machine, the bathroom, and the clean sheets. They said we would stay together for a maximum of 10 people. They put us to the container with three families, a few singles and 6 Afghans. Afghans said ’Welcome to Turks’.
They did not give new sheets to our rooms. In one of the containers, there were bunk beds in a container, but in the other one, there was not. We sent the women to the bunk bed, and we started to clean dirty sponge and blankets to sleep.
In our container, there was no bath, but it was on the women’s side. Firstly, children and women took a shower. Then they emptied that container, we went in line and bathed.
On the second day, they gave a donut and juice at breakfast. In lunch and dinner, there were boiled potatoes and bread. Tomatoes, cucumbers and the cheese made us so happy. At first, the children did not eat, but then they could not resist. Less food, less talk, less sleep. We returned to the circumcision that we forgot. Even children didn’t waste anymore, kept them and then ate.
WATER HEATING IN MILK BOX TO BREW TEA
Only our tea was missing. We couldn’t drink on the first night. Things like kettle were forbidden. On the second day, we met some of our needs from Afghans. I saw them drinking tea in their room. I asked where they got it. They said it was easy.
One liter of milk was delivered for children in the morning. Their boxes were covered with foil. They boiled the water in the boxes. Every day between 16.00-17.00, a small car came to the camp to sell tea, cigarettes, cola, water, etc. They got tea from there for us. After dinner each evening, they began to brew us tea.
New families came to our container. We combined all the beds and slept 15 people in 9 beds. After lunch, our tea was ready with biscuits and kernel. We prayed and gathered together to chat. Everyone was happy, women were good, and children found friends. the environment was great.
I MET WITH MY FRIEND WHO I HAD NOT SEEN FOR TWO YEARS
I met with my friend I hadn’t seen for two years in the UN camp. At 10 meters, we chatted through the wires. I said I would send them tea. He could not believe, but they were very happy. Afghans had made two iron resistors by wire. That was how we delivered the handmade kettle to them. And they had tea.
We left the camp that evening. They took us until Alexandroupolis. We came to Athens by plane. We found a guest house with 3 rooms. Clean bed, bed linen, TV, internet, bathroom, and my family… It was the best moment of five days. I pray to Allah to let everyone who is in trouble immediately free. After 8 attempts, we came to Germany. On October 24, 2018, Zeynep and the children passed. I passed on November 4, 2018.
We are staying in the houses given by the municipality. We’re looking for a kindergarten for my daughter. Our son started school. Everyone here likes to go to the riverside. We stay as far away as possible because our memories come alive. Those who lost their lives in the River Meric come to our minds.
CHILDREN WOKE UP SCREAMING WE WERE SINKING
Zeynep Yapraklı: Children sometimes say that they miss their grandmother. We say they will come to visit us. They say they shouldn’t come through Meric. When I say they will fly, they ask why we passed through Meric.
I thought the kids were not affected at all. But they are so deeply touched that they remember Meric when they see every wooded area. However, they will not want to return to Turkey in order not to pass through Meric again. We came here from Greece in our 8th attempts, which affected the children so much. When they set us up at the airport, they questioned us why they didn’t like us and want Turks.
We were impressed in the first days that we experienced. The children did not sleep for days. They woke up screaming we were sinking. We also woke up with fear. It was difficult for us.
Zeynep Yaprakli (29), Ahmet Yaprakli (34), Hamza (7), and Elif Betul (5) are now trying to hold on to their lives in Germany.