Following the attempted coup in July 15, upon the calls of mosques all across Turkey and of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and PM Binali Yildirim to the Turkish people “to take to the streets and airports,” pro-government Islamists started hunting Turkish soldiers – their own soldiers – in the streets, beating, torturing, lynching them.
Torture and beatings of surrendering soldiers continued at police stations, too.
In a disturbing video published on social media and some Turkish newspapers, a police officer threatens a soldier with raping his 10-months-old baby.
The police officer asks a beaten and handcuffed soldier: “Do you have a child?” The soldier responds: “Yes, 10-months-old.”
The police says: “Do you want me to fuck her? I will bring her here. You can’t handle the police. Traitor!”
In another video shared on social media, soldiers are seen brutally tortured and beaten by police who continually insult and swear at them.
More videos and picture can be seen of a lynched soldier surrounded by a mob; another lynching attempt, soldiers allegedly tortured in a mosque , Islamist crowds beating soldiers with their belts and trying to throw them off a bridge in Istanbul and a mob screaming “Allahu akbar” on the tanks.
Thousands of Turkey coup detainees ‘beaten, raped and starved’
Amnesty International reported yesterday that it has “gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centers in the country – including police headquarters, sports centers and courthouses.”
According to Amnesty, “Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.
“Two lawyers in Ankara working on behalf of detainees told Amnesty International that detainees said they witnessed senior military officers in detention being raped with a truncheon or finger by police officers.
“A person on duty at the Ankara Police Headquarters sports hall saw a detainee with severe wounds consistent with having been beaten, including a large swelling on his head. The detainee could not stand up or focus his eyes and he eventually lost consciousness.
“In general, it appears that the worst treatment in detention was reserved for higher-ranking military officers.”
This is how the Turkish police have handled “justice” for their own Turkish soldiers, judges and other citizens following the failed coup. Due process does not exist, neither do fair trials of those accused. It seems that many law enforcement officers in Turkey are as fanatic as Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) members.
But torture is nothing new in Turkey. Inhumane treatment of dissident detainees is a deeply rooted political tradition in Turkey. The Republic of Turkey inherited this tradition from the Ottomans and has used it in a widespread and systematic manner.
Following the 1915 Armenian genocide, the Turkish state seized the Sanasaryan Han in Istanbul, a building that was constructed in 1895 by an Armenian architect named Hovsep Aznavor and belonged to an Armenian merchant named Sanasaryan.
From 1944 to 1980s, the building was used by the Istanbul police headquarters and became known as “a torture center” where many dissident intellectuals were held and brutally interrogated.
Torture was widespread after the 1971 and 1980 Turkish coups d’état, as well. The torture methods against political prisoners included “electric shocks applied by field telephones, various forms of hanging, foot whipping, rape, sleep and food deprivation and torturing relatives in the presence of the suspect”.
Deaths caused by torture while in detention have also been commonplace in Turkey, with the country’s Kurdish citizens having been a regular target.
The 1993 Helsinki Watch report titled “The Kurds of Turkey: Killings, Disappearances and Torture” detailed the horrific treatment of Kurds at the hands of the Turkish government:
“Appalling torture techniques are regularly used: suspension by the arms or wrists, which are often first tied behind the back of the naked, blindfolded victim; electric shock to the genitals and other sensitive parts of the body; falaka (beating the soles of the feet until they swell and bleed, sometimes making it impossible for victims to stand); rape, both vaginal and anal, sometimes using truncheons or gun barrels; shooting highly-pressurized water at victims who are sometimes constrained in rubber tires; severe beatings with sticks and truncheons; pulling victims by the hair, sometimes pulling out clumps of hair from victims’ heads, beards or mustaches; death threats and threats to kill family members; placing victims on blocks of ice; forcing victims’ heads into excrement; placing victims in small cells with attack dogs who attack and bite them.”
One of the victims was Kadir Kurt 35, who was detained on April 19, 1992 in Diyarbakir. “He died that night in the Gendarmerie Battalion Command where he was interrogated. Davut Kurt, Kadir Kurt’s brother, who had been detained with him, said: ‘They tortured my brother beside me. They inserted a truncheon into his anus. One of my hands and a rib were broken by torture.’
“Kadir Kurt reportedly died from internal bleeding caused by pressure on his lungs from a broken sternum.”
In 2008, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) reported that more than one million people in Turkey were exposed to torture since 1980.
All of these crimes were and still are committed by the same people that the West calls “the democratically elected government of Turkey” against the Kurds and all other citizens who dare think differently and oppose state policies.
And today, in 2016, the Turkish government has once again proved that the old tradition of torture in Turkey is still alive and well.
Since 1952, Turkey has been a member of NATO, which is supposed to defend freedom and democracies. However for decades, Turkey has been a center of torture and other human rights abuses of the worst magnitude.
If the Turkish government authorities, police officers and so many average citizens are capable of torturing, starving and raping even their own soldiers and citizens, how can they be worthy of being recognized as a Western ally and partner?
Moreover, we can only imagine that if this is what they do to their own soldiers, what they have been doing to their minority citizens, who they fundamentally see as “enemies” — Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, Kurds, Alevis and others.
Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist formerly based in Ankara. She is presently in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/uzayb