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Human Rights

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…

Cevheri Güven

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.

Zabit Kişi and his family

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.

Zabit Kişi in prison

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.

 

12.07.2018

Zabit Kisi

2nd Numbered F-type High-Security Closed Institution

Kandıra, Kocaeli

Human Rights

Life of a child murdered – Ahmet Burhan Ataç

The story of two years with resistance, suffering, and persecution is told from September 24, 2018, when he was diagnosed with cancer, until May 7, 2020, when he died.

Zekiye-Harun Reha Ataç’s child Ahmed Burhan Ataç was diagnosed with bone cancer on September 24, 2018. At the time he was diagnosed, his father was arrested. Ahmet’s two-year-long struggle mirrors the situation in Turkey.

On February 20, 2018, while Ahmet was playing games with his friends in the nursery, his mother Zekiye Ataç and his father Harun Reha Ataç were detained. Ahmet was only six years old. The mother Ataç, who was expelled during the state of emergency, was detained for 14 days. She was released after being arrested for about three months. The father Ataç was expelled from the teaching profession with a Decree-Law and got arrested after being detained for 13 days over being a director in a private dormitory related to the Gulen Movement. The diagnosis of Ahmet’s disease coincides with the period that he has been left without a mother and father for three months.

“No discount for you!”

Harun Reha Ataç, who was on trial at the Adana 2nd High Criminal Court, was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison after his son was diagnosed with cancer. On November 30, 2018, the reports about Ahmet’s illness and chemotherapy period were submitted to the court to request Harun Reha Ataç’s release pending appeal. The judge decided to continue his detention by saying, “I have no discount for you.”

Because Ahmet did not recover with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, he was operated in July 2019, and the tumor in the shoulder blade was cleaned. However, in September 2019, it was determined that the tumor had spread to the lung.

Via social media, Zekiye Ataç, said, “We had a test this week. A tumor was detected in the lung. Doctors were also shocked at the tumor’s growth in such a short time. I have no choice. My son is dying before my eyes. “Social media users put the issue on the agenda after the videos of the mother’s comments and Ahmet’s speech for his father’s release.
A campaign was launched on social media for Ahmet’s father to be tried without arrest and to be with him during the treatment process. Zekiye Ataç said, “There was a phone call from my husband in the morning, but Ahmet did not want to talk to his father on the phone. Because he couldn’t stand, but then he asked me, “What does my father say? My God, I wish my dad comes.” Thousands of social media users joined the label about Ahmet and his father’s release, and Ahmet was known widely by public opinion.

Ahmet’s mother detained

While the intense criticisms directed to Adana Courthouse about the difficulties for Ahmet’s treatment abroad and his father’s not being released, mother Zekiye Ataç was detained for the second time on October 15, 2019. Ahmet was without a father and a mother. Zekiye Ataç was accused of being a ‘member of the organization’ because she accepted the aids given for the treatment of his son. Zekiye Ataç was released the next day under the condition of judicial control after the reactions increased further.

Treatment hope

As Ahmet’s disease progressed, his doctors directed him to the Immun-Oncology Center in Germany and stated that he could be treated there. In the first contact with the clinic, it was stated that Ahmet should be brought quickly. The family did not have the economic power to pay the expenses. Ahmet went to Germany on January 20, 2020, after a businessman said he would pay the first stage expenses. His mother could not go with Ahmet because of her travel ban. Ahmet went to Germany with his 70-year-old grandmother.

Required sum collected in 24 hours

Artel Natali Avazyan, a rights advocate who followed the case of Ahmet, started a donation campaign on January 24, 2020, for treatment expenses. The required 50 thousand euro was collected in 24 hours.

Mother Ataç said that the collection of the necessary money for the treatment was very moving: “I would like to thank Mrs. Natali and everyone who contributed in money and spirits. My belief in Ahmet’s recovery is strengthened. I think he will recover and have a nice family day.” She also added that her husband was also pleased that Ahmet went to Germany for treatment: “I will inform him that the money needed for treatment is collected. He will be very happy because he always thinks about Ahmet and us.”

Application for travel permission

Zekiye Ataç intensified her attempts to get travel permission and obtain a passport. However, the prosecution did not allow her to travel abroad.

It was stated that Ahmet was constantly crying and was depressed, and therefore did not respond to the treatment. Businessman Mete Atakul, who hosted Ahmet at his home in Germany, stated that Ahmet did not even eat because he was sad.

Travel ban restored three times

Due to intense public pressure, Zekiye Ataç could get travel permission in February 2020. However, upon the objection made by the prosecutor’s office, the court canceled her passport for the second time.

Because her mother could not go to Germany, Ahmed returned to Turkey to see his mother on February 8 for two weeks.

As a result of the efforts of Natali Avazyan and MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, travel permission was given again on February 21, 2020. The German Embassy quickly issued a visa to mother Ataç.

While trying to go to Germany on March 2, 2020, Zekiye Ataç learned at the airport that the Mersin 7th High Criminal Court canceled her passport for the third time.

“You are killing my son”

Zekiye Ataç posted a video on her social media account with the note, “You are killing my son in cooperation”.

Ahmet and his mother started waiting at the airport to solve the problem. The reactions have increased via social media. Singer Haluk Levent announced that he had met with Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu. The next day, on March 3, 2020, the travel permission was given again, and Ahmet flew to Germany with his mother.

Too late for treatment

Ahmet’s disease spread because judicial processes lasted too long. The blood values of Ahmet, who had many fractures in the leg bones, also decreased and did not respond to the treatment.

Doctors stated that Ahmet’s blood values were very low, and his body could not support the treatment.

Ahmet and his mother moved back to Turkey on March 11, 2020.

Phone conversation between father and son

A campaign was started for Ahmet’s father to be tried without an arrest to support his son during the treatment period. On March 27, 2020, the recorded telephone conversation between Ahmet and his father was published.

Ahmet wants his father to ‘come’. “Come here now; I can not stand.” His father, Harun Ataç, answered, crying: “My son, I cannot come. I want to come too, but I can’t, son. They don’t let me go, baby.”

After the intense effect created by the recorded speech, the prosecutor’s office allowed the father to meet his son for the first time. For a 5-hour meeting, father Harun Ataç came to the hospital to see Ahmet.

After the meeting, the photos of Ahmet, who slept smiling, were published.

Subsequently, all of the appeals for Harun Ataç’s trial without arrest were rejected.

Second campaign for morale: I love Ahmet

Arlet Natali Avazyan started a new campaign to cheer up Ahmet. Social media users said, ‘I love Ahmet’ with the videos and messages they shared. Famous people and social media users shared motivating videos.

Intensive care: Dad not allowed

Ahmet, whose condition worsened every day, got worse on May 6, 2020, and was taken to intensive care. Doctors put Ahmet to sleep.

Permission was requested from the prosecutor’s office for the father, Harun Reha Ataç, who was arrested in Tarsus Prison to see Ahmet for the last time. The prosecutor was stubborn not to let Harun Ataç see his son before the morning.

Ahmet left us

The heart of Ahmet, who struggled with the bone cancer disease he had caught in 2018 under the conditions of ‘state of emergency’, stopped three times. On May 7, 2020, Ahmet closed his eyes.

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Human Rights

The story of Demir Family: Imprisoned and plundered

Living in Fethiye for 28 years, Demir Family, from the Erzurum city located in eastern Turkey, has experienced a severe trauma after July 15, 2016, as eight of its members were imprisoned.

After the controversial July 15 coup attempt, the Erdoğan regime canceled Mrs. Fatma Demir’s and her husband Mr. Mevlüt Demir’s passports and imposed an interim injunction on their assets.

After that, eight were imprisoned from Demir family, five of them on the same day: Mrs. Fatma Demir, her husband Mr. Mevlüt Demir, their son, their daughter, their daughter-in-law, their two sons-in-law, and their granddaughter.

According to Cevheri Güven’s news from Bold Medya, Mrs. Fatma Demir disclosed about the day and her following experience:

“My son Onur, my daughter-in-law Ezgi, my daughter Esra and my son-in-law Mahmut had come to visit us. While we all were at home, the police raided our house. They made us sit on a sofa for 6 hours without allowing any physical movement. They didn’t even let me fetch my grandson’s milk from the fridge right next to me. Just then, my husband and my daughter were outside. The police detained us six all. The police said on the phone to their superiors that ‘We found a treasure’. I think they get a bonus from such raids.

“We were in custody for 11 days. We were even forbidden to look at each other while being daily taken to the forensic physician. At the end of the 11th day, they took my statement for 4.5-hours. A long-faced, tall and bearded policeman made a questioning as if beating me over the table, lying, ‘Talk!!! Hey, you woman, talk!!’ I am 54 years old, and he was consistently asking who made me marry my husband!? I said, ‘I got married in the village in Erzurum.’ And he was asking my matchmaker. I said, ‘My father got me married.’ He just asked strange questions. I had a headache during 4.5-hours of nonsense questioning. Eventually, he said, ‘Take her away… She is useless.’ I didn’t understand what I could say as a 54-year old innocent woman.”

Then everyone was arrested. They sent us to three different prisons in three different cities intending to prevent us from visiting each other in the prison, although our surnames are the same and we had the constitutional right to see each other. Just to give us more hardship.”

When all the members of our family were arrested, neither anyone brought clothes to the prison nor deposited advance money in our accounts for prison canteen shopping:

“I was sent to Denizli T Type Prison. No one brought me clothes, or I didn’t have any down payment for the prison canteen. We were all in the same situation. We were literally in hunger amidst plenty. My husband was a building contractor, and we were financially sound. Suddenly we fell down the hill economically, from heyday days to not having two nickels to rub together.

I had a navy blue dress and a green greatcoat. The officials in the prison entrance said that navy blue and green colors were forbidden in prison. They insisted on taking my clothes out due to their colors. I replied that I didn’t have any other clothes; nevertheless, they still persisted. They even took out my navy blue fabric bonnet from my head under my scarf, which is used to keep firmly the hair under the silk scarf. I reiterated that I didn’t have any other clothes, but the same reply I received:

‘Forbidden!!!’. They pressured a lot. Then I suggested to them that they might bring me a white cloth so that I could cuddle myself like a lunatic one in psychiatry. I wouldn’t enter prison without clothes.

They took me to the ward. There were young students or young teachers in the ward. I was overweighted compared to them. Their clothes did not fit me. I was about to raise my hands and pray, ‘O Almighty, send someone in my weight to this ward to share her clothes.’

“Interestingly, although my husband sent enough clothes for me with my lawyer, he said to my husband that he has handed over my clothes to me, yet he did not. I received those clothes five months later from the lawyer’s car after I was released from prison. The lawyer also gave us a lot of trouble.”

In the second month of Mrs. Fatma Demir’s detention without a visitor, one day, her daughter entered in her ward:

“One day, the ward’s door was opened. We always thought that when someone opened the door outside of the mealtime, another innocent one was sent to our ward. We prepare the place, and we help her. I ran down the stairs and opened the door, and I have seen my daughter out there.

Demir Ailesi cezaevi iç görüşlerinde.

She said ‘Mom’ and I said ‘Dearest’. We hugged and embraced each other. Not only we two, but also everyone in the ward was crying along with us. My daughter said her father was also arrested with her. A tremor began on my left side. It continued for a long time. I went to the infirmary for weeks; they gave me powerful pills. Of course, we do not know what pill it was. They don’t provide the prescription; they just give the capsule. I turned into a person sitting like a robot on my bed while I used to be a morale-booster one who amused everyone in the ward. I was just sitting, numbed. Everyone started telling me what’s going on. Then we found out that it was a very high dose of medication that was given to the people who brutally attacked others. After I was released from prison, I asked a doctor about the drugs, and he said it was too strong for me. I came to myself in days when I quit it. Such wrong drugs are also given to the innocent prisoners, and they are numbing the brains.

I stayed with my daughter in the same ward for three months. My daughter had miscarriage her three children. She was able to have the fourth one with treatment. Of course, she missed her child very much and was crying by calling my grandson’s name ‘Levent’ till the mornings. We could not stand it, and we took my grandson Levent, undesirably, with us to the prison.

My grandson, my daughter, and I were in the same ward. My son-in-law and my husband were in the same ward while my other son-in-law was in Muğla City prison, and my daughter-in-law was in Aydın City prison. Seven persons from the same family were in prisons in three cities… We made my son Onur to be transferred to his father’s ward by writing hundreds of petitions as his father had illnesses and needed care. The father and the son stayed together for a year in the same ward. When the Supreme Court upheld my son’s sentence, they separated my son and took him to another ward. My son said to some staff in prison, ‘I requested the concerned authorities to be transferred to this prison because my father is ill and needs a carer. If I can talk to the prison director and express myself, he may not separate us. There is a blockage in his brain vessels. The required surgery could not be carried out due to the detention.’ Just because he had this request, the Emergency Response Team appeared and took my son by pushing his head down, as if he was a terrorist. They took him to the torture chamber. They wanted him to undress. A room with soundproof walls.. My son did not elaborate on what has happened, but apparently, they undressed him by force, handcuffed him from behind and they tied his feet by laying his face down. Hours later, they took him back by saying, “Did you come to your sense?”. They did so just because my son wanted to explain to the prison director on his father’s illness. Later they asked the prison director anyway, and when prison director said no, nobody insisted.”

Having her grandson’s only toy in prison was the broomstick, Fatma Demir described her days spent in prison:

“My grandson constantly wanted to go out by pushing the door. There was no toy of course. There was a broom which we swept the floor. He was playing with the broomstick. He climbed the bunk beds, fell, and cried. He went up and down the stairs, fell, and cried. When he started talking, he used to say, ‘Don’t get upset, there is little left’ and made everyone laugh. Normally kids do not like some vegetables like leeks, but since he is obliged to eat, he used to say “I feel like eating leeks today”, and leek was coming on the menu. If he said ‘I feel like eating eggs today,’ and we had eggs on the menu. Whatever my grandson said, it was served. My ward-mates were getting around, and saying ‘Dear Levent, please wish such and such food today.’

If anyone cried, my grandson used to solace, “There is too little left, we will be out anyway.” He had been going a number of times to the courts with his mother for two years. One day he got up at the courtroom and started performing prayer. As he only saw women around in prison, he insisted on having a scarf for his head for his prayer. Although we insisted a lot, Levent could not wear shorts or short sleeve t-shirts, since there were cameras everywhere for us, the prisoners and we all were always paying attention to our wearing, I mean the hijab (and being covered in general). Later, there was a kindergarten in prison, but the child could not go out. Thereafter his play was to hook on something around his waist like a key, and he was becoming a prison guardian. Trying to open the doors, he used to say ‘I will take you to the view.”

After five months of detention, Mrs. Fatma Demir was released due to having eight detainees in her family.

“Normally, when someone is released, all the prisoners used to shout out the name with “released, released” in the yard and send her off with applause. This accustomedness did not apply while I was released. It was as if the bride was leaving her house during her wedding day and she was upset as she was leaving her mother. I was leaving for my freedom; nevertheless, I was leaving my daughter and grandson in prison. I was leaving seven people from my family in prisons as if leaving pieces of my lung out there. Everyone cried then. I looked back, my daughter Esra was waving behind me, and it was very difficult.

After I was released, I started to make a tour of visitations among seven people from my family among Aydın, Muğla, and Denizli cities, which are 1.30 to 2.30 hours away from each other. Since the views are very early in the morning, you have to go to the city a day earlier. It was not that easy, especially for a lady my age. I could only stay at my house in Fethiye once a week, and the rest was always on the roads.”

The state, on the one hand, and by the public on the other, started plundering the wealthy Demir family’s assets and properties. It reminds me of the mobs taking the streets of Istanbul and plundered the non-Muslim Greek, Armenian, Jewish houses on September 6 and 7, 1955.

“They blocked our bank accounts and imposed an interim injunction on our properties; however, the debts continued to grow with interest. When I came out of prison, I started dealing with exorbitant debts.

We recently purchased land on the upland. It was 5.6 acres of land and 1.2 acres of peach garden. Peaches’ quality was fantastic. We just collected from the garden once. When my son-in-law was released after me, we said, ‘Let’s go and collect our peaches so that we can sell and get some money for the debts.’ After we reached there, let alone the peaches, there were not even standing trees. The neighbor, whom we entrust our garden, took his tractor into our garden and cut all the peaches from their roots in order to make a field for himself. He literally destroyed 50 of our peach trees, cut our walnut trees, sold the pears, olives, or poplars. They spoke in the village coffee house that ‘The terrorists purchased that house and land, let’s burn it down!’. They broke the windows of the house and committed a burglary. They dismantled the irrigation system in the garden and took it to their own gardens. A peasant, whom we allowed him to cultivate anything on our 5.6 acres land as he wished, cut our 50 peach trees and several walnut trees. There was a difference as chalk and cheese between our intentions.”

Fatma Demir encounters the fact that her assets were plundered after her release.

 

“We had a brand new car that we got on for four months only. We were entrusted to a neighbor in the upland and covered it with a tarpaulin in front of our house. While we were in prison, a police officer stole it with a tow truck in front of our house in the upland at night. We became to know that he used our almost brand new car for about a year. He has opened the car’s doors with something like a screwdriver. We though our car was in the gratuitous bailee depot, but a police officer was using it for himself. Everyone was doing something when you are desperate.

We had some unfinished constructions. A man has spent 40.000 Turkish Lira (TL) ($5.700) inside the house, and he wanted 120.000 TL ($17.100) from us. They both transfer our property to National Estate and don’t pay their utility bills and making us pay the debt. I constantly paid debts. I have been dealing in the offices for two years, like the Courthouse, the Debt Enforcement Office, or the Land Registry Office.

They transferred our office building to the National Estate. Our house was a four-story building and was sold out. There were debts to the banks, where doubled a few times with interest. We couldn’t sell anything registered on my husband’s name. We sold the properties or assets that registered on my name. I sold my own house and moved to a rental one. We did not have any business operations in 2017 as we all were in prison, and our properties and asset were imposed an interim injunction; however, they charged us 10.000 TL ($1.426) income taxes and 8.000 TL ($1.140) VAT debts. It became, with interest, 35.000 TL ($5000) for not paying on time. They did not remove the blocks in our accounts, our properties could not be sold, we were all under arrest, we could not collect our receivables, and this inexistent 35.000 TL ($5000) tax debt has been doubled to 78.000 TL ($11.120) with more interest. They have imposed an interim injunction for our whole asset for this 78.000 TL debt, although our total asset worth much more.

They did not allow me to draw my husband’s pension. We worked hard for months to get it. My son-in-law, who is a doctor, tried very hard then. Later on, they said they will send his pension money to PTT (The National Post and Telegraph Directorate of Turkey.), I didn’t understand how it happened. Everyone is doing something among themselves.”

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Human Rights

Human Rights Watch: Allegations of Abduction and Torture Not Investigated in Turkey

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the authorities in Turkey to conduct an effective investigation into the allegations of people who say that they were held in custody and tortured by government agents for many months.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement today (April 29) and requested that the authorities in Turkey urgently carry out an effective investigation into the testimony of a person in pretrial detention who said that state agents forcibly disappeared and tortured him for nine months.

The testimony in question belongs to Gökhan Türkmen. Türkmen, 43, spoke for the first time during a February 10, 2020 court hearing about his abduction, enforced disappearance, and torture. He also said that officials had visited him in prison and threatened him and his family.

“Flagrantly flouting its legal obligations, Turkey has consistently failed to investigate credible evidence of enforced disappearances,” has said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at the HRW:

“The authorities should urgently investigate Türkmen’s allegations that he was abducted, tortured, and pressured to remain silent, and ensure that he and his family are protected against reprisals for speaking out.”

‘Prosecutor said there was no need to investigate’

The HRW has shared the following information about the issue:

“Türkmen disappeared in Antalya on February 7, 2019. His family repeatedly sought information from various authorities about his whereabouts and when met with silence, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

“Türkmen resurfaced in police custody on November 6. An Ankara court sent him to pretrial detention, and he remains in solitary confinement in Ankara’s Sincan F-type Prison No. 1. He is facing charges of espionage and links to the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for the July 2016 coup attempt.

“Türkmen’s lawyer has also filed complaints that men who introduced themselves as National Intelligence Agency (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT) officers have visited him in prison six times since November 15 and threatened him and his family.

“During a March 2020 visit, the men pressured him to retract his allegations about abduction and torture at the February court hearing. On April 16, the Ankara prosecutor issued three decisions saying there was no need to investigate the complaints. Türkmen’s lawyer is appealing.

“His wife told Human Rights Watch that she had faced intimidation from unknown sources who hacked the Twitter account she had set up in her husband’s name to campaign about his whereabouts when he disappeared, and set up a second one also in his name.”

‘Allegations are not investigated’
The HRW has also indicated that “Türkmen, is one of at least two dozen people over the past three years whose families, or in a few cases the individuals themselves, have said they have been abducted and forcibly disappeared by government agents for many months.”

The organization has shared the following information about them:

“All but one are men. HRW has examined 16 such cases since 2017. Turkish authorities have yet to effectively investigate any of them, and a number of families have applied to the European Court of Human Rights for justice. The whereabouts and fate of one man remains unknown.

“Four other men who were forcibly disappeared in February 2019 and resurfaced in police custody in July have remained silent on the full circumstances, although their families lodged multiple complaints with the Turkish authorities and to the European Court of Human Rights.

“The four – Selim Zeybek, Özgür Kaya, Yasin Ugan, and Erkan Irmak – are in pretrial detention in Sincan prison facing prosecution for links with the Gülen movement and espionage.

“A fifth man, Mustafa Yılmaz, abducted in February 2019, resurfaced in police custody in October, and is also in pretrial detention in Sincan prison.

“Another man, Yusuf Bilge Tunç, disappeared in Ankara on August 6, 2019 and his whereabouts remain unknown despite his family’s repeated pleas to the Turkish authorities for information.

“One man, Mesut Geçer, said he was forcibly disappeared in March 2017, and was held for 16 months and repeatedly tortured before being transferred to police custody. Ayten Öztürk has said that in March 2018 she was forcibly disappeared and tortured for over five months before being officially registered in police custody.”

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