Since 15th July 2016, there has been a relentless campaign of arrests targeting fellow lawyers across the country. In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained and arrested on trumped-up charges as part of criminal investigations orchestrated by the political authorities and conducted by provincial public prosecutors. As of today, charges have been brought against 1315 lawyers with 522 of them currently in detention.
On the other hand there is a systemic and widespread torture and ill-treatment of suspects. The police officers as part of the state of emergency have been offered (defacto and dejure) (Emergency Decree Law No.667) impunity by the government for any crime they may commit in performance of their duties including torture.
The Arrested Lawyers Initiative have recently come by a petition sent to the authorities by an arrested Turkish lawyer who had been subjected to days of torture and ill-treatment by the police following his arrest. The victim says in the same petition: “I’m still afraid of quoting names of police officers who tortured me.”
We understand that our fellow Turkish lawyer had surrendered to the police when he found out that a warrant for his arrest had been issued. Then what he had to suffer is something of a nightmare; he was kept in a 9m2 room with 14 other suspects for some twenty days where it was impossible to sit let alone sleep.
He was arrested after 20-days in police custody; in his own words after he had somewhat recovered his ability to think clearly, he wrote a petition to the judicial authorities. In his petition withdrawing his earlier statements, he gave a detailed account of torture he had to suffer at the hands of police officers during his time in custody. .
We share a part from his petition written to judicial authorities as follows:
“They threatened me with bringing my wife and daughters to the police HQ and to rape and abuse me before their eyes …. I was beaten for days… I was told “Only your #corpse can leave here (Police HQ) without you signing this statement first.. The police officers said “If your lawyer comes again to visit you, we’ will arrest him too” and ordered me “to tell him not to come again… A police officer often used to shout “I want to kill you all (suspects) in this aisle.. Another police officer once yelled at me; “Don’t look at my face, b******; keep your eyes on the ground when you are talking to me, f***” while hitting my neck and head.. We were kept in a 9m2 room with other 14 suspects. Sitting and sleeping was impossible… I was interrogated a few nights without my lawyer present; whenever my lawyer visited me police officers did not allow me to talk to him about the torture. Torturer police officers also came to the hearing and remained int he courtroom in order to prevent me to speak to the judge about the torture. There was continuous insults and swearing for detainees.. I was given only a slice of bread and 20 gr of cheese a day for 20 days”
Despite the victim’s detailed description of the torturing police officers and the torture itself, no investigation has yet been launched yet and our fellow Turkish lawyer remains in detention.