An Ankara-based rights organization on Thursday released a report delving into the allegations of enforced disappearances and torture that took place in Turkey since the 2016 coup bid.
The organization named Rights Initiative conducted in-depth interviews with the relatives of the 28 people who went missing in similar conditions and concluded in its report that their accounts are coherent with one another on the matter.
The report also quotes the accounts of several survivors, which include allegations of rape with objects, threatening with rape, threatening with harming the loved ones, deprivation from nourishment and basic needs, captivity in inhumane conditions, severe battery, electrocution, and constant verbal abuse.
“If these allegations are true, there seem to be numerous cases which include severe violations of universal rights and principles,” reads the report and continues, “notably the right to live, individual freedom and security, the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence which are enshrined in the international human rights codes and the constitution of Turkish Republic.”
Investigating the claims in two categories, the report separates the 22 of the cases that transpired before February 2019 saying that there were insufficient sources to confirm the current situations of some of the victims.
Nevertheless, the report entails claims from this category that appear in court cases like the excerpts from the written testimony of Ayten Ozturk, who alleges she was abducted by MIT agents in Lebanon in March 2018, and held in a place in Ankara for 6 months where they subjected her to various methods of torture until handing her over to the police.
Excerpts from a petition submitted to the court by Zabit Kisi, who is imprisoned over terrorism charges and currently in jail, also indicate torture by people who identify themselves as state agents.
Kisi claims he was told by his captors, “Here we are the judge, we are the prosecutor. There are no lawyers here, there is no police. Your exit from here is only possible by accepting everything we say. Do as we tell you, or we will torment you as long as you live, and if you die, we will bury you. It would become an unsolved murder.”
The report of the organization notes that they reached out to Kisi and conducted an interview. However, Kisi requested the interviewers not do not publish the content which according to the report implies, combined with the other cases victims abstained from being interviewed according to the report, that there is ongoing pressure to keep the victims silent about the torture they went through.
In-depth interviews with the relatives of the six people abducted in February 2019 lay out a coherent outlook of the situation, according to the report.
One of the interviewees, Fatma Betul Zeybek, stands out with her account, saying that she and her kids witnessed the abduction of her husband Salim Zeybek transpire, as they were intercepted by the abductors who identify themselves as “the state,” while traveling on the highway by their automobile.
The report reads in its conclusion that out of 28 cases of disappearance, 26 were connected to the persecution of alleged Gulenists, while suggesting at least 16 of them were detained in the capital city of Ankara.
The allegations detailed in the report also point out to exclusive usage of Volkswagen Transporter model cars, alluding to the similar usage of the white Renault 12 Toros model cars by the abductors who went after the pro-Kurdish figures in the 90s.
A common feature all the incidents share according to the report is that neither prosecutors nor the police deemed the applications by relatives worthy of being investigated. Also, parliamentary questions by MPs Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu and Sezgin Tanrikulu went unanswered.
Gergerlioglu made a motion for a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations of Zabit Kisi, but the speaker of the parliament rejected his motion on the grounds that it contains “rude and hurtful language” that violates the house regulations.
“The difference between a state that is not efficiently limited by the basic principles of universal law and human rights and a crime syndicate can be reduced to a mere difference in power, extent, and quantity,” the report asserts in its conclusion.
Ongoing crackdown on the Gulen Movement
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accuses the Gulen movement, led by the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of being responsible for the failed coup in July 2016.
Gulen denies the allegations. However, Ankara has since initiated a widespread crackdown on the movement, expelling more than 120,000 public servants from their posts with emergency decrees and detaining more than half a million people while arresting nearly 80,000.
Adding to that, abductions, allegedly perpetrated by country’s intelligence service (MIT), started to surface. A report released in December 2018 by a non-profit investigative newsroom based in Europe, Correctiv, suggest that MIT enforces disappearances of Turkish nationals to hold them in a secret detention facility placed in Ankara called “the Ranch.”
Backing the allegations of such detention facility where state agents interrogate detainees using torture, the report by the Rights Initiative underlines the torture claims of alleged victims of abduction.