Police officers threatened to rape a group of detainees as well as their wives after the latter group denied accusations that they were members of the Gülen movement, a lawyer told Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“Police officers had accused them of being members of the Gülen movement. If they denied the accusations, the client had told his lawyer, the police had started to insult them, then they had started beating and kicking them. They had also threatened to rape them and their wives, the client told his lawyer. ‘You can’t trust that they won’t do this,’ the lawyer said,” the first one of the 13 alleged abuse cases documented by HRW claimed.
In a 43-page report, “A Blank Check: Turkey’s Post-Coup Suspension of Safeguards Against Torture,” published on Tuesday, HRW documented 13 specific abuse incidents concerning Turkey’s post-coup detainees. The alleged abuse cases ranged from use of stress positions and sleep deprivation to severe beatings, sexual abuse and the threat of rape.
HRW said it had interviewed more than 40 lawyers, human rights activists, former detainees, medical personnel, and forensic specialists before preparing the report.
The watchdog said Turkey’s post-coup emergency decrees facilitated torture as they removed safeguards against ill-treatment.
What follows is the full text of the first abusive incident published by HRW on Tuesday.
“One Istanbul-based lawyer told Human Rights Watch that police had detained her client, an officer, from his home several days after the coup attempt and he told her that he had not put up any resistance during the detention. When Human Rights Watch met with the lawyer she had seen her client three times. During the interview with Human Rights Watch, the lawyer consulted handwritten notes that she had taken during her meetings with her client. She shared a copy of the notes with Human Rights Watch.
“The lawyer said that when she saw her client for the first time in the Istanbul Security Directorate in Vatan Street, six days after his detention, she saw a bruise on his left shoulder, scars and marks on his face, and marks on his wrists from the handcuffs. She said her client told her the police had blindfolded him and taken him to one of the upper floors of the police station on three occasions together with other detainees. There, police officers had accused them of being members of the Gülen movement. If they denied the accusations, the client had told his lawyer, the police had started to insult them, then they had started beating and kicking them. They had also threatened to rape them and their wives, the client told his lawyer. ‘You can’t trust that they won’t do this,’ the lawyer said.
“Once I saw a child and a mother whom the police had detained as hostages to force the husband to turn himself in.
“The client told his lawyer that a doctor had come to the detention center, but that he had only asked them a few questions and not conducted any real examination.
“At one point, the client told his lawyer, he had been in so much pain from the beating that he had insisted on going to the hospital. A police officer was in the room during the examination, he said. The doctor had not recorded any of his injuries apart from noting that the patient had complained about ill-treatment. The police officer then took a photo of the report with his phone and sent it to somebody, the client told his lawyer. When they came back to the police-station, the client told his lawyer, the police took him straight to the office of a senior police-officer who started beating him, saying that it was in retaliation for complaining about ill-treatment to the doctor.
“The lawyer had tried several times to obtain copies of her client’s medical reports, she said, but without success.
“By the time Human Rights Watch met with the lawyer, her client had spent 22 days in police detention without being brought before a court.
“The lawyer, who had other clients held at the Istanbul Security Directorate in Vatan Street as well, told Human Rights Watch that the police threatened the detainees if they requested to see a doctor. One of her clients told her that one man had a broken hand, but that he was too afraid to ask for a doctor. ‘They are so scared,’ the lawyer told Human Rights Watch. ‘There is no law here any longer’.”