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Opposition accuses Erdogan's regime of carrying out mass torture

TURKISH authorities were branded lawless thugs today as the brutal regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was accused of mass torture, including the electrocution of a 13-year-old child.

The torture was said to have taken place at the hands of police after scores of people were rounded-up in Urfa province. Most are believed to be Kurdish.

 

 

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) sources warned that the continued support for Mr Erdogan by Western countries made them complicit in human rights abuses. They said Turkey should become a “pariah state” instead of being sold arms and being seen as an important trade partner.

Video footage obtained by the Star showed people being frogmarched by police as they were taken into custody — many of them covered in blood. Lawyers said they had been savagely beaten.

Many who were unable to walk were seen being dragged across the floor by officers once they had signed statements allegedly extracted through torture.

Urfa Bar Association said: “This is a criminal act. Torture is strictly prohibited under national and international law.”

The mass arrests followed clashes in Halfeti, Urfa province on Saturday. 

Two people who authorities claimed were members of the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), which are allied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, were killed. A special operations deputy inspector was killed in the gun battle, and two police officers were injured.

Security services swooped to make arrests, targeting villages and districts that the Star was told are nowhere near the site of the original clashes.

Military operations have intensified with reports that the home of an HDP official was burnt to the ground by security services.

Many of those detained were dragged to the notorious Bozova Yaylak Gendarmerie Command centre. Photographs sent to the Star showed a row of detainees — many of them children — lying face down while handcuffed behind their backs.

Diyarbakir Bar Association president Cihan Aydin claimed: “It looks a bit like Auschwitz. It looks like Abu Ghraib and Palestine too. Could it be Guantanamo? No, this is an outpost in Urfa.”

Sources told the Star that many had been so badly beaten that bones had been broken. There are also allegations that police had electrocuted a 13-year-old child.

Laywer Gulsen Ozbek said two of her clients — one born in 1945 and the other in 2006 — had been tortured through electrocution and “many other ways.”

Her request to see the prosecutor was rejected and the authorities extended their detention for four days, leaving the pair in the hands of their alleged torturers.

Lawyers who visited Mehmet Alaku said he and his uncle had been accused of helping the HPG by giving them food and water. 

They said Mr Alaku displayed clear signs of serious torture and alleged that security services threatened to harm his wife if he did not sign a statement of confession.

Detainees have only been allowed to spend five minutes with a solicitor and have been banned from speaking to them in Kurdish — their mother tongue. Many interviews have taken place with police in the room.

Lawyers have submitted an appeal to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture asking them to intervene as a matter of urgency.

Van Bar Association president Zulkuf Ucar warned that the state should be aware there is no statute of limitations for the crime of torture.

An HDP source told the Star under condition of anonymity: “This is not the first time security forces have committed such a horrific act. In fact it is a state tradition, just as it was in the 1990s.

“The main incentive behind torture is absolute impunity. Security forces are assured that they will face no consequences for their actions. They can burn down villages, do extrajudicial killings, torture people openly and yet still go unpunished.

“Western countries and entities are complicit in all the human rights abuses committed in Turkey as they continue to support it financially with trade deals and funds.

“For the international community, there is one question to ask: would they want to live in Turkey, or want their family members to live in such a country?”

Many of those held face lengthy jail terms on trumped-up terrorism charges.

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