“A number of torture methods are described in the 60 cases but all the people reported multiple forms of torture. All 60 people described blunt force trauma (usually being beaten with an object). Other highly prevalent forms of torture documented in the reports include: sexual torture (77% of all cases) including rape in some cases (23% of all cases); electric shocks (63%); and cold/high pressure water hosing (58%). Other methods of torture reported include falaka (beating the soles of the feet), asphyxiation/suffocation, burns, use of stress positions and/or suspension and mock execution, including in at least three cases people being taken to the roof of a building and threatened with being thrown to their death.”
The attempted coup in July 2016 highlighted the willingness of the Turkish authorities to use torture as a means of punishment and asserting control. News coverage of thousands of people who showed signs of torture and mistreatment meant the world could not ignore the brutal retribution the government was taking against suspected plotters and many others who were caught up in the crackdown. Yet this is not a new
pattern of behaviour from the government. Survivors of torture seen at Freedom from Torture know from experience that this is a tactic which has been used to brutally control political dissent in Turkey for decades.
This briefing analyses information about detention and torture in Turkey from 60 medico-legal reports prepared by Freedom from Torture’s specialist doctors over the last five years. In the majority of cases the survivors are Kurdish, and were detained and subjected to ill-treatment due to participation or alleged participation in Kurdish political activity. All of the cases profiled document torture which took place before
the attempted coup.
Turkey is seen by the European Union as a key partner in the refugee crisis, it has an important role in the Syria conflict, the fight against so-called Islamic State, and in NATO. It was also one of the first countries visited by Prime Minister May at the start of the UK’s Brexit trade agreement campaign. However, torture or tolerance of it is not legitimised by political or security threats. Turning a blind eye to Turkey’s behaviour will contribute only to instability in the country and the wider region.
Freedom from Torture is one of the largest torture treatment centres in the world. Since our establishment in 1985, more than 57,000 survivors of torture have been referred to us for rehabilitation or forensic documentation of their torture injuries. For a number of years, Turkey has been in the top ten countries of origin for those referred to us.
Freedom from Torture’s evidence, combined with the allegations of escalating torture in response to the unrest of the last two years as reported by other human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, highlight the long-standing problem of torture in Turkey and the government’s failure to take meaningful action to address the problem including through investigating allegations and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Turkish Government must be held to its national “zero tolerance” policy on torture and its international obligations to prevent, investigate and hold accountable all those accused of torture. The ban on torture is absolute and it is essential that Turkey’s allies forcefully remind President Erdoğan of the unacceptability of his actions and his government’s sanction of these abuses.
Source: Freedom from Torture. Read the whole report here.