Police put a plastic bag over the head of a woman in order to convince her to testify against the Gülen movement, a recently released detainee explained in a letter to the media.
Independent news portal TR724 published the second part in a series on the re-emergence of torture in Turkish prisons following a failed coup on July 15, based on the personal accounts of victims and their families.
Before sharing the letter from the detainee, the introduction to the second part of the series stated that all of the journalists detained in the capital of Ankara have sustained torture on their shoulders.
What follows is a translation of the letter written by a woman who spent 20 days in custody at the Ankara Police Station.
“I am a woman. I was held under custody for 20 days after being detained by Ankara police. The conditions in the holding cell were an affront to human dignity. The worst moments of my life all started after a raid on my home that was accompanied by insults and swearing from police officers. It ended 20 days later in a horrific holding cell followed by the testimony I gave amid humiliation and cursing by the prosecutor.
Twenty people were staying in a eight-meter-square cell. There were only two blankets, and we slept in turns. There was no space even to stretch our legs.
They gave us a small piece of bread with either jam or cheese every morning and night. Detainees either had diarrhea or were constipated.
There were only two restrooms, both used by men and women. … Our families were trying to reach us, but they were told that the detainees were fine and that all their needs were being met. While we were denied our request to meet with our relatives, the prison seized the clothes family members brought for us. …
“The men’s holding cell was so close to ours that we were able to witness or hear what they were going through. There were some men who had their eyes taped closed for a week with their hands cuffed.
They put a plastic bag over the head of one woman, she was doing so badly.
… There was a woman with a 2-month-old baby. They let her breastfeed her child once a day. Her husband brought the baby to the prison where the mother would feed it in tears.
They were putting pressure on everyone to plead guilty. They were forcing those pleading guilty to sign a pre-arranged testimony.
“We’ll take your husband as well as your baby. Your child will be given to the state-run children’s home. Your relatives won’t be able to take him/her back.” Such threats were accompanied by inconceivable psychological torture.
A pregnant woman was forced to almost have a miscarriage as she was held in custody for six straight days.
Lawyers, under pressure from the government, are not willing to defend such cases. We couldn’t find a lawyer since many were already under detention. Lawyers assigned by bar associations do not go into details; they defend our cases so superficially.
Some of the lawyers even ask detainees to plead guilty as if speaking on behalf of the same people who put us behind bars.
What I related above is only part of what is experienced in Turkey’s capital province of Ankara in the 21st century. I am avoiding explaining further as I fear being detained again.
I am pleading that this disgrace be stopped. Lend an ear to those people. Please!”