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Lawyers confirm severe torture in Halfeti district

The Human Rights Center of the Gaziantep Bar Association has confirmed torture allegations reported last week from Sanliurfa’s Halfeti district, announcing the ill-treatment by police was worse than thought, online news portal Gazete Duvar reported on Monday.

According to the report released by the association which investigated the incident at the scene and talked to alleged torture victims, the detainees including women were heavily beaten, insulted, given an electric shock and forced to sign false testimonies.

The detentions in Bozova and Halfeti districts in the south-eastern province of Sanliurfa took place after a police officer was killed in a counter-terrorism operation targeting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Halfeti on May 18.

In the wake of the operation police from the Counter Terrorism Unit blamed some nearby residents for supporting the PKK militants and detained at least 54 people.

The PKK which is deemed as a terrorist organization by Ankara has waged a decades-long insurgency in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern part of Turkey for self-rule.

Shortly after, maltreatment reports started to come from the Sanliurfa Bar Association. In solidarity with Sanliurfa’s bar, the Gaziantep’s bar charged an eight-lawyer group to investigate the torture allegations.

According to the association’s report, the detainees were tortured during the detentions as well as interrogations and were handcuffed from behind, and laid down on the ground and kept waiting for hours in that position

The report also found there were indications of serious torture on the detainees’ bodies such as physical injury marks, bruises, and cuts on their faces, legs and bodies and some detainees were given electric shocks on their genitals

  • Some of the damning finds in the report are that detainees were tortured by squeezing their testicles;
  • a woman detainee could not recount the torture she was subjected to
  • an old man of around 60 years was having difficulty walking and moving due to heavy torture
  • the detainees’ complaints of torture were not taken into consideration by prosecutors
  • police officers threatened the detainees they would harm their family members unless they signed false testimonies
  • were prohibited from seeing a doctor.
  • The report stated that unlawful restrictions were imposed on lawyers who wanted to provide the detainees with legal advice, despite the end of the 24- hour period of restricted access to lawyers, many of them was not allowed to meet with their clients. Those who could visit the detainees were allowed for only five minutes under police surveillance; and
  • lawyers’ requests for transferring the detainees from the police station where they were tortured to another place were rejected.

The association completed the report by calling on the authorities to take a series of actions regarding the torture incident.