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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.

 

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Erdogan foe detained in Bosnia to be deported back to Turkey

Direktor Fatih Keskin Bosnien

The local police in Bosnia Herzegovina on Tuesday detained a Turkish dissident with a permanent residency in the country, reportedly to extradite the Erdogan foe to Turkey.

Fatih Keskin, the principal of Una-Sana College, an institute operating within the Richmond Park Schools Group, was invited to a police station in Bihać city by the Ministry of Interior of the Una-Sana Canton, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) reported citing local media.

Soon after being detained, the Gulen movement affiliated teacher was transferred to a detention center for migrants in the capital city of Sarajevo to start an extradition process, AA said.

The move came hours after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan hinted at new operations to capture Gulenists living in Europe before he left for London to attend a summit.

Ankara accuses Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric in a self-exile, for orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt, a claim that strongly denied by the movement.

The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Security of Bihac revoked the residency permit of four Turkish nationals in September, following the Turkish government’s extradition request according to AA. The case of four Erdogan dissidents was taken to a local court then.

His lawyer Nedim Ademovic confirmed that Fatih Keskin, who has been living in the country for more than 14 years with his family, was detained by Bosnian authorities.

Keskin told Bold on the phone that he was being kept in a detention center in Sarajevo where refugees are held for deportation.

“I was invited to the police station at around 10 am in Bihac and I was told I violated the rules in Bosnia, hence my residency was revoked. When I asked which rules I violated, the officers said they did not even know,” Keskin said.

He told that two police officers forcibly transferred him to Sarajevo refusing to show any official paper and denying him time to meet his lawyer.

“They did not let me call my lawyer. ‘If you resist, we will handcuff you,’ the two police officers told me.”

He is concerned for possible deportation back to his home country where a mass crackdown has been targeting some 500 thousand Gulenists since 2016.

In March 2018, Turkish intelligence service (MIT) detained six Turkish nationals with the cooperation of Kosovar authorities and they were taken to Turkey where they were arrested.

As of March 2019, a total of 107 people with alleged links to the movement have been brought to Turkey since the failed 2016 coup, following extradition requests for 504 people sent to 91 countries, the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported citing Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.

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Academic purged in post-coup crackdown reveals details of torture during latest detention

Nuriye Gülmen

Renowned activist Nuriye Gülmen talked about the torture she and her friends had been through in Istanbul Police Station.

CEVHERİ GÜVEN

BOLD – The last three years in Turkey saw the Erdogan regime dismiss more than 150 thousand civil servants from their posts.

The “Solidarity Concert” was to be held in Istanbul to protest the decrees that Erdoğan issued to dismiss civil servants and to meet with those who lost their jobs. However, the concert on Saturday (November 23) was banned by the local authority at the last moment.

Turkey’s well-known activists and academics who lost their jobs came to the concert and 18 people including Nuriye Gülmen and Acun Karadağ were detained.

During the 4-day detention process, Nuriye Gülmen confirmed that practices such as torture, ill-treatment, and medication ban were implemented as expressed by the lawyers previously. Gülmen told BOLD about their experiences she had in custody and the resistance movement that they started with a few people against emergency decrees.

Four-day detention with non-stop torture

“When we were taken into custody, they handcuffed us behind our backs and our arms forced almost till the breaking point. We were not allowed to use the toilet when we wanted to, and they did not answer our questions. The place where we were kept was very dirty.”

“On the last day, they said, ‘We’re going to get fingerprints.’ In fact, it was designed to torture us. Normally our fingerprints are already in the police records.

Nuriye Gülmen and Acun Karadağ.

The torture scene was prepared

“The female cops evacuated us from the detention facilities and took us to a room with 15-20 men inside. They laid us down, reversed our arms behind our backs, insulted us constantly and kicked me in the head repeatedly. They crushed my chest so that I would not chant the slogan ‘Human dignity will overcome torture,’” Gülmen said and carried on, “They have a certain technique I’ve never encountered before. They crush your chest and prevent you from breathing and make you unable to chant slogans. I lost my conscious after some time due to continuous blows and because of their conduct that made me unable to breathe. They also used a method of foot crushing. When you are lying face down, they press on your ankles with their feet, make your ankles unmovable. So they torture you without breaking your bones and without causing a scar on your body parts.”

“As they stood on me, they insulted and humiliated me by saying ‘Let this be a teacher’s day present to you’.”

Medication Ban

Gülmen also mentioned about another method of torture during detention which is withholding medication for the patient ones:

“None of the patients in custody were provided with the medication they needed. We had three elderly friends, 60-70 years old, their medications were not given. Acun Karadağ who has a cardiac pacemaker was not provided with any medication too.”

Nuriye Gülmen was the one who started the first open action against the Emergency Decrees in Ankara Yüksel Street.

 

Speaking out against the emergency decrees normalized

Nuriye Gülmen says that all the activists are proud of the point she has reached today against the emergency decree dismissals:

“On November the 9th [2016] I went out on my own. When we first went to the streets, people were hesitant to say that ‘I am dismissed with an emergency decree.’ Losing your job because of these decrees is a serious ground for isolation among people. It was our resistance that defeated the fear surrounding the emergency decrees. We made this legitimate. If one can say ‘I am dismissed by an emergency decree ‘ today, this is thanks to these resistances. We are most proud of it.”

Nuriye Gülmen had lost weight until she was 34 kilos in the last days of her hunger strike.

Who is Nuriye Gülmen?

An academician and an activist, Nuriye Gülmen was expelled from the university she worked in over the accusation of being a member of the Gülen movement with an emergency decree issued after the July 2016 coup bid.

On 9 November 2016, she started a stand-alone protest in front of the Human Rights Memorial on Ankara Yüksel Street with the slogan ‘I want my job back’.

When the protest initiated by Gülmen started to attract masses, the prohibitions and detention processes started one after the other. Gülmen and her academic friend Semih Özakça went on a hunger strike. As the reaction grew, the two were arrested but they continued with their hunger strike. They maintained their hunger strike for 324 days. They were released months after their health problems increased. Gülmen and Özakça ended the hunger strike on January 26, 2018, after the state of emergency (OHAL) commission rejected their applications. Nuriye Gülmen had lost weight until she was 34 kilos in the last days of her strike.
 

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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.

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