The Ankara Lawyer’s Bar Association has slammed an executive from Turkey’s ruling party who claimed that the bar’s report on torture suffered by former Turkish diplomats in May was mere speculation of the Gulen movement, Gazete Duvar reported on Friday.
The association further said their torture report’s findings were being investigated by a prosecutor investigation as they were serious allegations and not speculation.
Answering a question regarding the torture report by the association during a session at Human Rights Commission in the Turkish Parliament on July 10, Vice Interior Minister Muhterem Ince claimed that the torture allegations were promoted by the Gulen movement.
“One of the lawyers who made the torture claim has a jailed father, a runaway brother, and family members with ByLock usage. Another lawyer is arrested for use of ByLock. Torture [on former diplomats] claims are organized by FETO (the acronym created by Turkey’s government after 2016 coup bid to classify the Gulen movement as a terrorist organization), with international links to them,” said Ince.
In response to Ince’s claim, the bar association published a statement, saying the commission members of the parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were trying to create a misperception about the torture report by linking it to FETO, while the torture allegations in their report were under investigation by prosecutors.
Former Turkish diplomats arrested over terrorism charges claim they have been tortured as well as sexually abused with police batons,
“The vice minister’s implication, which links our torture report to FETO, is another tragicomic example of perception creation. They [AKP and its election ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)] link everyone who advocates human rights and rule of law to FETO. We are used to their [AKP and MHP] attempts,” said the statement.
The association’s statement pointed out that the torture report was drafted following face-to-face interviews with the victims of alleged tortures, adding that the prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incidents based on the report’s serious findings.
The torture allegations first emerged on May 27 when Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) raised the issue through his Twitter account, calling for the interior ministry to explain the incident.
This was followed a day later by the Ankara Lawyer’s Bar Association, which following a series of meetings with the victims, published a report substantiating the allegations.
ByLock is a smartphone messaging application that Turkish law enforcement considers illegal as the application is used among Gulen followers.
Users of ByLock were deemed terrorists in Turkish courts, but in December 2017, Turkish authorities revealed that almost half the people who had been prosecuted for having ByLock on their smartphones would have their legal cases reviewed, as they could have been redirected to the app without their knowledge.