Gaziantep Bar Association Human Rights Center confirmed torture in Halfeti district of Şanlıurfa province, Turkey.
In a press statement released by the Gaziantep Bar Association said, “The allegations of torture and ill-treatment were true.”
The English translation of Gaziantep Bar Association Human Rights Center full report is as follows:
GAZİANTEP BAR ASSOCIATION HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER REPORT ON THE TORTURES IN ŞANLIURFA TEM BRANCH (ANTI-TERROR BRANCH)
On 05.18.2019, clashes occurred in Dergili (Derto), Halfeti district of Şanlıurfa when Şanlıurfa Tem Branch teams, special operations police and gendarmerie special operations units conducted operation on members of an illegal organization. During the operation, one officer lost his life and two members of illegal organization got killed. As a result of the incident, some news was released regarding numerous cases of detention in the district where clashes took place, neighboring districts, villages and Bozova district. People detained in these places are claimed to be tortured. A large number of applications were made to the Human Rights Center of the Şanlıurfa Bar Association. In various social media accounts defining themselves as special operations police, they shared photos of dozens of people with hands cuffed face down on the ground in place which was thought to be the garden of Halfeti Gendarmerie Station. When the Şanlıurfa Bar Association identified torture and lawyer restrictions in press releases, the Gaziantep Bar Association decided to go to the region with a delegation to analyze and report the situation.
According to lawyer members of Şanlıurfa Bar Association Human Rights Center, It was confirmed and determined that these allegations and suspicions have been proven true by the lawyers’ investigations into prosecution meetings and interviews with detainees. Şanlıurfa Bar Association made a public announcement on 22.05.2019 in a press release.
On 24.05.2019, the head of Şanlıurfa Bar Association, Mr. Abdullah Öncel, was visited by 7 lawyers who were members of the Human Rights Center of the Gaziantep Bar Association. They interviewed with lawyers of some suspects under detention and went to Şanlıurfa Anti-Terrorism Branch Directorate to meet with 6 persons about whom they had been briefed. The following information is based on the observation of our delegation and the information obtained from these meetings and visits. (Note: the names are not shared at this stage because the detention process is ongoing and there is a risk that the lawyers will be targeted with the repetition of torture.)
The detainees were subjected to torture for a long time after being placed face down on the ground during the detention and handcuffed behind their back. This situation is clearly understood from the captured photos and the scar marks and stitches in the persons. Also they are in accordance with the statements of the persons.
According to information received from lawyers and Şanlıurfa Bar Association, suspects under detention were prohibited to communicate with their lawyers as there was 24-hour prohibition and they were not able to communicate with their lawyers for a while although this period ended. It was determined that there was a restriction imposed by law enforcement unit that one suspect could only meet with one lawyer and this was practice was by the decision of the investigating prosecutor. During the meeting with the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, it was reported that there was no restriction in this direction. It was also stated that a law enforcement officer would be present during the interview and that suspect would not be interviewed alone with their lawyers. Thereupon, the Lawyers’ Rights Center of Şanlıurfa Bar Association objected to the situation and took this issue under record. However, it was requested by law enforcement unit that a new lawyer be sent from OCAS (automatic central lawyer appointment system) system directly in this procedure. In order to prevent attitudes towards the prevention of these and similar attorneys’ activities, the problems were partially solved by the Bar Association via interruption of the OCAS system for a while.
Although some suspects have their own lawyers, some of the lawyers were stalled. Those in charge of the situation tried to get a statement from the suspects with the lawyer appointed from the OCAS system. The lawyer appointed by the CMK (the Code of Criminal Procedure) stated that the person had been subjected to torture but did not wish to put his statement in this direction as he was afraid of the continuation of the torture and threats.
6 of the detainees were asked to interviewed but two of them were reported to have been taken to the fingerprint process and therefore they could not be interviewed. After an average of 2 hours, it was declared to us that these persons had not yet been brought back from fingerprinting process. (Although 6 days have passed since suspects were first detained, their fingerprints have not been taken yet. This leads to the impression that fingerprints have not been taken so as not to reveal the new scars in the photos taken in this process.)
All of the interviewees showed signs consistent with their stories of violence.
One of the interviewees stated that he had been subjected to torture during his detention. He stated that he had been subjected to torture by electric shocks during his detention and by squeezing his balls. It was found that the eyebrows of the person were split and there were 8 staple stitches on his head and there were bruises on various parts of his body. He stated that the torture had stopped for the last two days.
The detainee (50-year-old woman) stated that they came to their homes at 2 o’clock at night and 5 people were laid face down in the garden and kept in such a way until 7.00 am, and during this time, her husband and son were subjected to constant violence. When she asked why they were beating his husband and son, she was also subjected to violence. However, she reports that she was subjected to much more severe torture in detention. He stated that she could not describe the type of torture because she was ashamed that the interviewees were men, but she stated that she had been given electricity, severely beaten and subjected to severe insults. She stated that she had told her lawyer about the heavier and more detailed dimensions of the torture and we could get information from her lawyer. She could only show her arm to us. Excessive swelling and bruising was observed on the person’s arms. Externally, the information obtained from the lawyers of the suspects is that genital areas of women had also been electrified.
One of the suspects (about 60-year-old male) has difficulty walking and getting up and having new stitches from his left temporalis to his eyebrows and up his forehead. There are dense broad ring bruises on both eyes and underneath. There are also bruises in various parts of his body, and his shirt is torn with blood stains. The person declared to us that he had been brought into this situation while being detained. It was observed that the person was in intense fear and had problems in trusting the people he spoke to.
Another person stated in his statement that he had been beaten from 2 am to 6 am in the morning and he was also beaten in the hospital and ambulance. There were signs that these tortures had been committed within the knowledge of investigating prosecutor.
– When a person declared during his statement in the prosecution that he had been subjected to torture, his statement was interrupted and he was threatened by the police that his statement would not be taken on the pretext of lack of identification. After the suspect gave up his statement regarding the torture, his statement was taken.
– Although suspects should be dispatched after their statement in the prosecutor’s office, extension of their detention period was requested by claiming that there were deficiencies such as digital material examination which is not normally compulsory for dispatching and it is not known how long it will take. The detention periods of the persons were extended and some persons whose detention period was extended were tortured again.
The persons stated at the Magistrates’ Court that they had been tortured. Their defendant lawyers had these statements recorded and requested that suspects would at least be placed in another unit. It was stated by the Magistrate Judge that this matter was at the discretion of the prosecutor’s office and this request was rejected.
– Despite the allegations of torture the traces of severe violence in the persons, public prosecutor has not fulfilled the responsibility given to him by law and regulation. Article 92 of Turkish Criminal Procedure Code No. 527: “In the course of their judicial duties, the chief public prosecutors or public prosecutors appointed by them shall inspect the custody centers where the individuals taken into custody shall be accommodated, including, if any, the rooms where interviews are conducted, the factual situation of the individuals in custody, the grounds for being taken into custody and for the custody periods, as well as all the written material and interactions related to being taken into custody, and the outcome shall be noted into the record book of individuals taken into custody. “The prosecutor was reluctant to record the statements of torture. He did not attempt to determine the situation, and nor did he share the situation with the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in order to prevent a possible torture case. He also did not evaluate the demands.
As a result, it was concluded that there were intense cases of torture in judicial units in Şanlıurfa. Prior to this incident, the lawyers registered to Şanlıurfa Bar Association observed that there had been cases of torture.
International agreements, which Turkey is a party to, have put some obligations on the administration to fight against the crime of torture. There is an absolute ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and outrages upon personal dignity. It is even prohibited during the state of emergency and war. Constitutional rights and guarantees are disregarded.
In Şanlıurfa province, urgent actions are needed to combat the crime of torture which is against the law and humanity. The urgent suggestions and requests that come to the fore are as follows:
-All male and female detainees who are being detained and tortured in Şanlıurfa Police Department Anti-Terror Branch should be immediately dispatched to medical jurisprudence.
– The detainees should be transferred to other units immediately and the necessary inspections should be carried out regarding their situation. Negotiations should be conducted with Şanlıurfa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Şanlıurfa Governorate, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior.
– An application must be made to the HSK and the Ministry of Justice to remove the prosecutor from the file and initiate a judicial and administrative investigation.
-The Bar Association and TBB should call for an extraordinary meeting in the province of Şanlıurfa with the governorship and the public prosecutor’s office in order to prevent torture by absolute determination. Also intellectual follow-up is required.
-A joint committee should establish a joint delegation with bar associations in Adana, Mersin, Hatay, Adiyaman, Kilis, Osmaniye, and the whole process of the situation should be observed in coordination with Şanlıurfa Bar Association.
– Turkish Medical Association should be called for and it is necessary to determine the defects or omissions of the health workers involved in the hospital processes of these persons. Also some programs should be applied to raise awareness of health workers in Şanlıurfa in the long term.
With respect to the press and the public…
Gaziantep Bar Association
The information of those who took refuge in Georgia leaked to Turkey
General Directorate of Security asked a study by the intelligence, sending the name list – inscribed as ‘Confidential’ – of 52 Turkish citizens who sought asylum in Georgia to 24 cities.
BOLD EXCLUSIVE – Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Security wrote to the Anti-Terror Branches of 24 provinces, reporting that 52 Turkish citizens sought asylum in Georgia. He asked for intelligence work on these people.
In the letter dated April 10, 2019 with the inscription ‘confidential’, it was stated that these people were related to the Hizmet Movement. It is not known how the names of people under international protection and whose lists of names should only be in the United Nations and Georgian authorities reached the Ministry of Interior.
However, the letter of the General Directorate of Security says the information was received from the counsellor of the Georgia Ministry of Interior.
In the letter, it is stated that according to the information received, these 52 people have carried on with their organizational activities after their asylum in Georgia, and the presence of a list including the names is mentioned.
It is said in the letter, “The list including the information of the PYD/FETO related people who sought asylum in Georgia and continued their organizational activities in Batumi, was taken from our Interior Counselor and sent for evaluation in the studies. ”
The official letter, signed by the head of Anti-Terrorism Department, Erdoğan Kartal, states that the names of the 52 people were added as “EXTENSION” to the name list.
REQUEST TO SEND INFORMATION TO INTERPOL DIVISION
The letter sent to the 24 cities – where the 52 people mentioned in the name list lived, while in Turkey – asked the intelligence information to be sent to the Interpol-Europol Office of the Presidency. Requesting the dispatch of the information to the Interpol Office is interpreted as a sign that a step can be taken for 52 asylum seekers in Georgia.
82 PEOPLE WERE BROUGHT FROM ABROAD TO TURKEY
After July 15, hundreds of people associated with the Hizmet Movement were asked to be handed over to Turkey. Some of them were brought to Turkey by illegal abductions. A large number of people from countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Kosovo were handed over to the National Intelligence Agency, illegally. Some of them were people who had applied to the United Nations for asylum.
Ismet Ozcelik and Turgay Karaman were two educators who were detained – unrecorded – in 2017 in Malaysia and handed over to Turkey . His lawyers appealed to the United Nations for forced abduction. Stating that Özçelik and Karaman’s freedoms had been violated, the United Nations Human Rights Commission called for the immediate release of two of them and gave the Turkish authorities 180 days to comply with the decision. In addition, the UN Commission ruled that compensation should be paid to individuals for arbitrary detention.
However, Turkey did not yet comply with the UN’s decision.
Canan teacher committed suicide after her return from visiting her prisoner husband
Teacher Canan Deniz who was jobless due to KHK (decree-law) locked herself in her room and committed suicide after her return from visiting her prisoner husband, who was a teacher too. Her two children are now parentless. Her detained husband was brought to the funeral of Canan Teacher, who was buried today, while he was accompanied by police and soldiers as he was handcuffed.
BOLD – Canan Deniz was a primary school teacher for 15 years. She was jobless because she was working in one of the closed many Gulen schools in Turkey due to decree-law (KHK) passed during the state of emergency. She was also unable to teach in another school because of her rights restricted by the Decree Law. The Deniz family had to settle in their hometown Denizli after the economic difficulties they had and they moved to the flat as a downstairs neighbor of Canan teacher’s family.
Judicial processes were added to economic problems too. In June 2018, her husband, Yılmaz Deniz, who was also a teacher in Gulen schools, had a car accident. He was detained by the police who came for the accident after being told that he was wanted, and then he was arrested. At the end of a fast trial process, Yılmaz Deniz was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months and sent to Denizli Prison.
Canan Deniz, who was alone with her teenage son and daughter, started to use heavy depression medications. She was hospitalized several times because of persistent pains, obsession with cleanliness and psychological problems.
Canan teacher, who was looking for a job to heal her psychology, could not find a job because she was jobless because of decree-law (KHK).
COMMITTED SUICIDE AFTER HER RETURN FROM PRISON
Canan Deniz returned home after visiting her detained husband Yılmaz Deniz with her children in Denizli Prison yesterday (17 June 2019).
Canan teacher, who went to her room, committed suicide by hanging herself with a kerchief. When the neighbors saw through the window in the evening, the children and her mother who lives upstairs wanted to be part of an effort to save her.
Medical teams from the scene found that Canan Deniz lost her life.
HER SON ENTERED THE UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE EXAM AT THE WEEKEND
Canan Deniz’s son entered the university entrance exam last weekend and she had a daughter studying in the first year of high school. It is expressed that both of her children had psychologically troubled in the current climate.
SHE WAS A VERY IDEALIST TEACHER
Her colleague, who has known Canan Deniz for years, said the following:
“Sister Canan was a very idealistic teacher. So I aspired to be like her, then I became a teacher. She certainly wasn’t a suicidal person. She was a successful teacher, well-liked by student parents. What she had been through, loneliness and illnesses probably triggered suicide. Her children also had psychological problems that affected her. She was alone in this painful process. She couldn’t talk to anyone. These all affected her.”
IN OUR LAST MEETING SHE ASKED, “SHOULD I PAY ZAKAT FOR MY MONEY IN THE BANK?”
Another colleague of Canan Deniz told about her last meeting:
“After graduating from high school, Canan teacher worked in a supermarket. Tired of the humiliating attitudes she faced during that time, she won the university with her own means. She became a teacher. She was a very idealistic teacher. Canan teacher had obsessive cleaning disease. What she had been through worsened this disease, but she also had severe pain in her body. Recently, she was hospitalized, after discharged from hospital ‘I don’t feel recovered’ she said. We worked together in the same school, and we were only able to talk on the phone in the last three years. When she sold her family’s car, there was some money and she put that money in a bank. Last week, she asked ‘if she could pay any zakat for that money?’ on our last talk. Psychologically she was very lonely. There was no one around to have a heart-to-heart talk, so we were inadequate on the phone. Her 62 years old mother was working in textiles. Canan teacher was very upset that she was inadequate for her family and inadequate for her children because of her health problems. She was a very idealistic teacher, not a suicidal person.”
Broken Alas family is looking for a solution…
Sedef, who cannot go abroad for treatment due to a restraint on her passport, is stuck in Georgia with her mother who has difficult times during her pregnancy; her father is also stuck in Poland.
BOLD – The state of emergency has broken down many families with the detained mothers and fathers in separate prisons, and also with family members who were stuck in separate countries. What The Alas family, who has a daughter of cerebral palsy, has been through is among the most difficult sufferings that these families have experienced.
Doctor’s appointments which had been arranged in Sweden and Singapore for the treatment of Sedef Alas did not happen because of the restraint on 6-year-old Sedef‘s passport.
The family had to fall apart. Sedef Alas and her geography teacher Elife Alas are stuck in a very difficult life in Georgia. Turkish teacher father Samet Alas is in Poland.
The family, who had to seek asylum in two different countries, cannot get together because of the different asylum laws of Poland and Georgia. The father Samet Alas who seeks for the reunion of the family according to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities describes their difficulties:
“My wife and I both were working in the Gulen Movement’s teaching intuitions. When we were unemployed, we moved from Maraş to Ankara in order to help my daughter with cerebral palsy to find treatment and maybe a new job. Indeed, I found a job in a company. During the state of emergency, the police came to my house when I was not at home for reasons such as depositing money into Bank Asya and being a member of a foundation. I learnt that I had a detention order against me. Then I had to run and live as a fugitive until the end of 2018.
One of my friends kidnapped by the police with a white Toyota, similar to the Black Transporter incidents. After a while, they released him. I decided to go abroad on the possibility of something similar that could happen to me. At the beginning of 2019, I illegally slipped over the border to Greece. Then I went to Poland. My goal was to go to Germany, but I was detained at the airport and spent two months in a refugee camp. Now I’m waiting for the finalization of my asylum seeking process in Poland”
“MY WIFE IS SICK AND MY DAUGHTER IS DISABLED MOREOVER THEY ARE ALONE”
In this process, doctor’s appointments were arranged for the treatment of Sedef in Sweden and Singapore, but this treatment was not possible due to the restraint of 6-year-old Sedef’s passport based on the State Decree-Law.
Samet Aras decided to take them abroad because he was afraid of the fact that legal processes had started about his wife and his disabled daughter Sedef could be left alone. The only country that could be visited was Georgia with a national ID. He made his wife and daughter gone to Georgia:
“My wife is going through a difficult pregnancy period. Because of the likelihood of problems similar to the first child, habitually doctors asked her to stay in the hospital until delivery. However, because she couldn’t leave our disabled daughter alone, she had to return home.
There are some families around, but they have to stay alone at home at night. My daughter can’t even go to the toilet on her own. My wife has to go to bed all the time because of heavy pregnancy. They’re having a hard time. The second child will be born, but we could not convince anyone from the relatives to go there and help. We’re desperate right now.”
“SEDEF COULD NOT WALK AGAİN”
Samet Alas says that: while in Turkey, her daughter started walking with regular physical therapy however Sedef has started to lose her ability to walk again due to the interruption of physical therapy in Georgia:
“My daughter has cerebral palsy. she should receive 3 or 4 sessions of physical therapy and one day of individual training per week. When she does not receive physical therapy, she loses her ability to walk and starts to fall, unfortunately, she begins to fall again right now. She was good in the last year, and she had started to walk inside the house. Sometimes she has a nervous breakdown. Because of her longing for father and having to stay at home constantly. My wife is pregnant and she can’t carry her out. There is an apparatus in the child’s foot. Because she grows, it must be changed every 6 months. But since we couldn’t change it, she had wounds on her feet. They do not meet the requirements in Georgia. She can’t even meet her own toilet needs.”
“I MUST BE REUNITED WITH MY FAMILY”
Samet Alas said that the regression and difficulties experienced by her daughter fell under the scope of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He said that within the framework of this agreement, Sedef should be taken to a country where treatment can be made.
He also stated that he should be with them for the care of his pregnant wife and disabled daughter and he wants the family reunification process to be completed as soon as possible.
Alas, who applied to the authorities for this, says that: “the procedures take too much time, but there is no time, especially for my daughter, who began to lose her ability to walk.”
“Polish asylum laws and Georgian asylum laws are very strict to transcend. However, due to the special situation of my family, my daughter’s disability, and my wife’s heavy pregnancy, our family reunion needs to be addressed in a special context.”