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

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


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.


Parents arrested, disabled children left at home alone

Ali und Elif Kısa

On the International Day of Disabled Persons, Ali & Elif Kisa was arrested for being elected to the Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP) administration. One of their children is deaf and mute and the other is mentally disabled.

On December 3, the International Day of Disabled Persons, parents of two disabled children were arrested in the Elbistan district of Maraş.

According to Mesopotamia Agency; 70-year-old Ali and Elif Kısa have been detained 3 times since 2017. Ali Kısa, who supports his family with his retirement pension, has been involved in political activities for many years. Ali Kısa, who has been the HDP district manager since HDP was founded, was detained together with his wife Elif Kısa in 2017. While his wife was released by judicial control, Ali Kısa was arrested on charges of helping the terror organization. After being detained for 7 months, Kısa was acquitted from the file on which he was tried. During his detention in prison, Ali Kısa, who had severe conditions and high cholesterol prostate surgery, decreased from 116 to 79 kilos.

Threat before the congress

Ali Kısa was taken into custody together with his wife Elif again on November 13, 2019. They were released on condition of judicial control after the threats “If you go to HDP and join the administration again, we will get you again”. Ali Kısa was re-elected to the management at HDP District Congress on November 17th. Ali Kısa was taken into custody with his wife Elif again on 3 December. Ali and Elif Kısa were arrested on terror charges.

Parents arrested on the International Day of Disabled Persons

Ali and Elif Kısa were arrested on December 3rd the International Day of Disabled Persons and their two children with disabilities were left alone. One of their sons is 44-year-old İsmail, who is mentally challenged, deaf and speech-impaired. İsmail has a “Severe Disability” report which means he is totally in need of his mother’s care.

Their other son is 42-year-old Ahmet, with a hearing and speech disability of 64 percent. Ahmet closed his painting workshop so that he could look after his brother. Both brothers cannot hear the doorbell as they are hearing and speech impaired. İsmail is also obsessed with cleanliness. He was bathed every day by his mother. He can not eat without the help of someone. His fingers bleed because he often cuts his nails. For not taking his medication regularly, he gets nervous.

Toğrul: Children cannot sustain their lives

HDP Deputy Mahmut Toğrul also pointed out the situation of Ali and Elif Kısa in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. “In Elbistan, Ali Kısa, Elif Kısa, and Bekir Kara were detained on 3 December and arrested. Ali Kısa and Bekir Kara are our current district managers and Elif Kısa is our previous district manager. Ali and Elif Kısa are 70 years old and have 2 children. One is 80 percent mentally challenged, the other is hearing and speech impaired. There’s no one else in the house. The two children are not able to look after themselves at home. The family has expressed their children`s situation in custody, but they have been arrested in spite of this.”

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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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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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