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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.


Torture convict cop promoted

Impunity for torturers has become a state policy in Turkey. The latest example was a police officer convicted of murder being promoted.

USD one and a half million -belonging to a businessman from the Laleli district of Istanbul- was stolen while a courier was transferring it in 2009. Oktay Kapısız was acting as a chief police officer in Istanbul when the incident took place. Police forces, under the command of Oktay Kapısız, raided the addresses of 29 suspects in 2010. It later came out that Murat Konuş, one of those suspects, had been tortured to death.

Defendant released despite the life sentence 

An investigation was launched after authorities found that he died of torture, and four police officers stood trials as potential suspects. The Istanbul 2nd Heavy Penal Court found four police officers guilty of murder in last July. Oktay Kapsız, Ramazan Adıgüzel, Murat Ertürk ve Abdülcelil Karadağ were sentenced to aggravated life in prison on charges of “causing death through torture.” Their sentence was reduced to life in prison. The court that found the suspects guilty ordered their release pending their appeal.

Court cases stalled for years, acquitting alleged torturers

Police or military officers accused of torture have rarely been given sentences in Turkey. Meanwhile, President Erdogan’s policies in recent years have allowed torturers to go unpunished.

This also happened in the latest episode: Oktay Kapısız, a chief police officer, remains in office despite being sentenced to life in prison on charges of torture. He has even received a promotion. He was appointed as a top police officer to Mugla province, one of the most beautiful holiday places in Turkey, from the southeastern city of Çukurca.

A farewell ceremony was organized in his honor, where the city’s mayor and senior military officers were present.

The statement as to how Kapısız could remain in office after being convicted of torture is quite interesting: “Since Kapısız appealed against his conviction, his punishment is not yet absolute.”

Victim’s lawyer slams the decision

Nuri Köse, the lawyer of Konuş family who lost their relative, lashed out against Kapısız’s promotion and said “It was proved with video surveillance, witness statements and forensic reports that Murat Konuş was tortured to death. The evidence is unmutable, the facts that the case is not closed, the suspects were released after receiving lifetime jail term, and they keep their posts, demonstrate that the trial was not fair.”

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Former service members of Turkish intelligence tortured in police detention

The detainees who have reportedly been tortured in Ankara turned out to be the MIT employees. H.Ç.’s lawyer told about her observations in the Police Department of Ankara.


Twenty-seven people who were detained in the pitch-black morning of December the 18th in Ankara by the Prosecution Office, were identified as former employees of the Prime Ministry. However, it turned out that they were the purged personnel from the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and that they were subjected to intense pressure during the detention process.

According to information provided by the lawyers of detainees in Ankara Anti-Terror Branch, the first day of detention was full of threats, insults, and psychological torture.

The wife of a former MIT employee, H.Ç., who is also a lawyer, provided the information that those who were in custody were ‘interrogated’ at 22.30 on the first day. They were threatened with rape and sexual assault by showing bottles lined up side by side.


Detainee in panic

H.Ç.’s wife said that she visited her husband twice, and her first visit was yesterday. She stated that everything appears to be normal yesterday, nevertheless after the interrogation during the night, she saw that her husband was in a panic today:

After being expelled, my husband had neither undergone any investigation, nor prosecution. When I met him, he was in fear and scared. Ordinarily, the lawyer interview rooms are closed and no cameras are fixed.

But interestingly it was not the same in the Ankara Anti-Terror Branch. There were full of glasses on both sides of the room. The outside sound was directly coming inside, and vice versa. My couple started to explain by saying, “This place is not good.” At 22.30 in the evening yesterday, they took seven other people, who were in the same situation as him, for ‘interview.’ They took him somewhere else in Anti-Terror Branch. They had a half-hour ‘interview.’ They insulted and threatened the entire half-hour meeting. They threatened them over their wives, and as this part hurt him very much, he did not give too many details. They threatened and insulted him over the families or mothers.

They said several things like, “Even if we leave you here, we’ll pick you up again. We don’t need a warrant or a custody order to arrest you”.

“Bottles are prepared for you”

Afterward, they showed the bottles put side by side and threatened by saying, “Look, we greased this bottle for you. We say just ‘hi’ to you today; you guess what we’re going to do tomorrow.” They shoved him relentlessly. At present, he has not been beaten and subjected to violence. There is psychological torture, and they are threatened by saying, ‘Be smart, talk!!!’ and implying that torture will begin tomorrow by saying ‘See you again tomorrow!!!’.” I’m worried about what can be done during tonight’s interrogation. Previously, the same thing happened to the former employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ankara Bar Association recorded the heavy torture and reported it.

Ankara Bar Associaton launches an investigation

The lawyers informed the Ankara Bar Association about their clients’ experiences, and the Human Rights Board of the Bar Association was authorized to meet with detainees.

It was mentioned that detained persons are kept in Ankara Anti-Terrorism Branch’s Campus, which is on the way to Eskisehir city.


Eighteen in custody

On the morning of December 18, 27 former Prime Minister employees were announced to be issued a custody order. It was learned that 27 people were National Intelligence Organization personnel, not Prime Ministry. Eighteen people out of 27 could be taken into custody, and they all were purged during the state of emergency from MIT. Among them are employees working as intelligence staff and supporting staff. It is stated that detentions were undertaken within the scope of the Hizmet investigations.

The 34th High Criminal Court was established in Ankara for the prosecution of MIT employees. The establishment of a special court for judging only one institution’s staff drew criticism of the lawyers. Six people who were abducted in February 2019 and who were handed over to the police after six months of immense torture began to be tried in this court.

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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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