People who were detained due to alleged links to the Gülen movement were subjected to torture at a police detention center in Ankara, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported on Tuesday, citing the TR724 news website.
According to TR724, 300 people have been detained in the last two weeks in police raids across Turkey as part of investigations overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Some of the detainees were beaten and forced to sign false confessions while in police custody, the website reported, citing their families and lawyers.
Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has called on Turkish authorities to investigate claims of mistreatment and torture at the Ankara police center.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.
After the abortive putsch, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers as evidenced by the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in a report based on his mission to Turkey between November 27 and December 2, 2016. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.
According to the UN special rapporteur, “torture and other forms of ill-treatment were widespread” in Turkey. “[T]here seemed to be a serious disconnect between declared government policy and its implementation in practice,” the special rapporteur noted.
The Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) confirmed in two reports published in August 2020 the continued existence of ill-treatment, torture, informal questioning and restricted access to a lawyer as well as a fundamentally flawed medical screening system in Turkish detention facilities.