Prisoner journalist Ahmet Altan asked the doors of the prisoners’ wards to the courtyard to be unlocked for emergency after the recent Istanbul earthquake. The administration rejected the request by saying “the doors only open with the permission of the minister”.
BOLD – Silivri Prison inmates had to have troublesome night after the 5.8 magnitude Istanbul earthquake. While all the people of Istanbul spent the night in the streets, Silivri prisoners were not allowed to go to the prison’s courtyard. CHP Eskişehir Deputy Utku Çakırözer visited CHP former MP Eren Erdem, journalist Ahmet Altan and businessman Osman Kavala in Silivri Prison.
Cakirozer told what happened in the Silivri prison, which is close to the epicenter of the earthquake, during that day with 22 thousand 700 prisoners and convicts and about 500 recruits. Eren Erdem told him that, neither the Ministry of Justice nor the prison administration has any preparation for what should be done in the earthquake, he said.
OPENS ONLY WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE MINISTER
According to Çakırözer, Ahmet Altan stated that the prisoners experienced the earthquake in the courtyard and felt the earthquake severely. Altan asked the doors of the prisoners’ wards to the courtyard to be unlocked for emergency for the following night, but the prison administration rejected the request by saying “the doors only open with the permission of the minister”.
Çakırözer, “While all the people of Istanbul spent the night at the streets with fear, Silivri Prison ward doors remained locked under the pretext of the Minister,” he said. Cakirozer also said that; businessman Osman Kavala also told him that he felt the earthquake severely.
Plight of children with imprisoned parents
Hundreds of mothers and fathers, were arrested due to alleged relations with Hizmet Movement in Erdogan’s Turkey. The children with both parents imprisoned are part of a great tragedy that takes place in the country.
There are more than 500 thousand ongoing investigations against alleged Hizmet movement members. The movement comprises the largest organized opposition against Erdogan’s rule in Turkey. Children are the greatest victims of investigations targeting these well-educated citizens.
The Öner family is among those many victims. Meryem and Osman Öner were arrested on March 6, 2017. Their three children have to stay with different relatives. The mother and her 2 children have medical conditions.
Especially the eldest child of the family, İbrahim Said Öner, is trying to make his voice heard on Twitter for his mother’s immediate release.
Said Öner said that his mother had been receiving psychological treatment for 8 years and had been using strong pharmaceuticals. He also mentioned that “Her condition in the prison is deteriorating. When she got worse, the doctors wrote a report that she ‘cannot remain alone’. However, she is kept alone. Moreover, she is alone in the 28-person ward. In Kilis city prison, there is no one under arrest over Hizmet Movement related investigations, so she is kept alone.”
Said Öner said that not only his sister who is a student of 11th grade has to use strong medications due to her mental state, but also he is having fits. He mentioned that his mother should be immediately released pending a trial both for her well-being and for her children.
Said Öner tells the story of what his siblings undergo and what happened afterward:
“It became obvious that my parents were in prison due to probes into the Hizmet Movement. It’s a small town where my siblings live. They encountered too much neighborhood pressure. My brother was forced to drop out of school because of bullying. He was admitted to a correspondence school.”
Said Öner posted on Twitter about the turmoil in his family’s life revealing that his two siblings stay at his aunts in the southern Hatay city while he remained in Istanbul at another aunt of him. Hatay is 1.115 kilometers away from Istanbul.
“My mother desired to be transferred to the prison in the city where my siblings have been living for almost a year, so did my father. Each time, their petition was rejected,” Öner says and carries on with stating, “My father was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on the same charges over which Hizmet Movement members are incriminated, such as sending your child to a Hizmet affiliated school. They’re completely innocent. These incidents affected me and I studied harder and successfully enrolled in law school.”
“One of my siblings is in 11th grade, the other one is a 3rd-grade. We have no income. My aunts support us.”
“We want, at least, my mother to be released as soon as possible, both for her and my two siblings’ health conditions.”
Resorting to higher courts
Not getting any results from the local court, Said Oner said “My dad’s always worried about my mom being alone. He is afraid as my mother is not psychologically well. My parents are ruined mentally speaking. We consider applying to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.”
The Hizmet Movement, which currently has 17,000 members in detention, describes this course of time as “Tenkil” – “Purge.” “Tenkil” is an Arabic-rooted Turkish word, a noun that signifies eradicating or total cleansing. In the last three years, 117,000 people have been arrested for various periods over their alleged membership in the Hizmet Movement. Almost all of these people are university graduates and the majority are teachers.
Report on torture in Turkey
Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST), a US-based human rights organization, prepared a report on the torture incidents and deaths, which occurred after the coup bid that took place on July 15, 2016. In the report, two victims alleged that they were abducted by the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) and subjected to torture.
Titled as “Systematic Torture and Ill-Treatment in Turkey,” the report covers the cases of Gökhan Açıkkollu, Ayten Öztürk, Zabit Kişi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees, the tortured children in Van city, as well as the very first interviews conducted with two people abducted by MIT. The 128-page report examines 104 cases.
Torture and ill-treatment took the lives of 93 people
According to AST, 93 people died in prisons due to torture, ill-treatment, and neglect. As a result of interrogations under torture during detention, 11 people were killed. In addition to registering these individuals’ names, AST highlighted 10 torture cases.
A former official from the Presidency
Mr. A.G. (The name is not provided by the rapporteur due to security grounds), a former official from the Presidency
was brought to the MIT’s Yenimahalle Campus with a sack over his head and while constantly being beaten. He stated that he was electrified on a device called “the Palestinian hanger,” beaten up with whips, sticks, and batons and that he was also subjected to rape attempts.
Staying in the 4.5-square-meter dark cell for weeks, A.G. disclosed that he was actively subjected to similar physical tortures especially during the first 20 days. Accused of being a member of the Gulen Movement, A.G. was left hungry and thirsty and faced curses, insults, and threats on his family.
Torture with baton
A.G. said some captives had ruptured bowels because of despicable actions like making them sit on a dildo or inserting a baton into the anal passage. He also reported that there were attempts to rape him. Listening to the screams of the tortured people in their cells and the laughter of the torturers who mocked them, A.G. described a torture session as 4-5 hours. He said that there were cameras in his cells and they have prevented him from sleeping by giving the torturers constant instructions.
He alleged that an officer from the presidential office came to this interrogation center and received reports from the tormentor. He was asked to become a confessor, to sign pre-prepared statements and to work as an informant in the Gülen Movement by working for the MIT.
It was discussed by İ.S. in the report that he was tortured in the same premises for 7.5 months. When he was released after losing 30 kilos, he predicated that even his wife could not recognize him as similar torture methods were applied to İ.S.
At the conclusion of the report, a list of 93 prisoners’ names, who died as a result of torture and neglect in the prisons after July 15, 2016, and how they died were provided. Besides, those who died as a result of neglect and torture in custody are described in detail.
Victim of enforced disappearance lost weight and in fear, says wife
Gökhan Türkmen, a Turkish national who was allegedly held in a torture center for 9 months after his abduction, met his wife for the first time recently. His wife Zehra Türkmen told about the meeting which took place in the presence of police officers.
The most damning rights violations perpetrated by the Erdogan regime against the Hizmet Movement, during the ongoing crackdown in which tens of thousands of members have been arrested, are the enforced disappearances.
Gökhan Türkmen, one of the about 30 people who were abducted by the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT), was handed over to the police after being tortured in a secret center for 9 months.
Months later, Zehra Türkmen met her husband face-to-face at the Ankara Police Department for the first time.
Zehra Türkmen described her impressions as follows:
“My husband was thinner than I expected. His hands were so white, which caught my attention the most. He was afraid. ‘Think about the children,’ he said constantly. Then he told me to withdraw our applications to international organizations and courts, such as the United Nations and the ECHR, and not to share anything on Twitter about his abduction. He said he didn’t want a lawyer. All those who were kidnapped and left were saying the same words to their wives. I said that I would not withdraw my applications.”
“There was one policeman in front of the door and two behind us when we were talking. We couldn’t talk very easily between three people.”
“‘Will you wait for me?’ my husband asked.’ Of course, I will,’ I answered. I said it won’t take much time, not as long as he expected. I explained that this is a political process. ‘No matter how many years, we’re here for you, don’t worry!’ I said.”
“My husband’s case was the first of the six abductions that occurred in February 2019. The other abductees were handed over [to the police]. There was no news from my husband. Frankly, I was scared that they harm him. Nine months later they told me my husband was alive.”
“I always thought before whether he was alive. Now, I am thinking about whether there is any scar on his hand, face, and body, or permanent damage. What is his mood? That’s my concern. But it’s good to know he is alive.”
“I stayed in prison for 9 months”
“One of my kids is 6 and the other is 11 years old. We did not tell my children that their father had been kidnapped. But my children have many problems such as biting their nails, excessive fear, lack of attention. My son can’t even go to the bathroom alone. We have been living this process for four years. I stayed apart from my children for nine months while I was imprisoned. I was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. My sentence has not yet been finalized at the Supreme Court.”
Legal struggle continues
“Now we have another struggle, the legal struggle. I’ll be a follower of this law process to the end. No matter what international courts it goes to, I will not quit ”
One person is still in the torture center
Gökhan Türkmen, who was abducted on February 7, 2019, is a chemist. Together with Turkmen, Yasin Ugan, Ozgur Kaya, Salim Zeybek, Erkan Irmak and Mustafa Yilmaz were abducted in February.
All of the abductees in February were handed over to the police after months of torture.
Yusuf Bilge Tunç, who was abducted in August, has not got away from the torture center yet.