Turkey failed coup inmates tortured, sexually harassed: Amnesty International

Alwaght- Inmates apprehended after failed military coup in Turkey have been subjected to torture and sexual harassment, Amnesty International reported.

The human rights organization released a report on Sunday, claiming that it had received reports that Turkish police had held detainees in “stress positions” for up to 48 hours in the capital Ankara and Istanbul.

The UK-based group also noted that detainees have been deprived of basic necessities such as food, water and medical treatment.

The prisoners were also being threatened and verbally abused at the detention centers, it added.

The report has been based on interviews conducted with lawyers, doctors and one person on duty in a detention facility.

Two lawyers working in Ankara on behalf of the detainees told Amnesty that they had witnessed “senior military officers in detention being raped with a truncheon or finger by police officers.”

Amnesty International’s Europe director, John Dalhuisen, voiced serious concern over violations and abuses.

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” Dalhuisen said

“It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held,” he added.

Dalhuisen said abuses of human rights are never acceptable in any circumstances, noting, “Turkey is understandably concerned with public security at the moment, but no circumstances can ever justify torture and other ill-treatment or arbitrary detention.”

The senior Amnesty official also called for independent monitors to be granted access to detention sites across Turkey.

The Turkish government has rejected Amnesty’s report.

“The idea that Turkey, a country seeking European Union membership, would not respect the law is absurd,” AFP quoted a senior Turkish official as saying, adding, “We categorically deny the allegations and encourage advocacy groups to provide an unbiased account of the legal steps that are being taken against people who murdered nearly 250 civilians in cold blood.”

A sweeping wave of arrests engulfed the Anatolian country in the wake of the abortive coup.

Tens of thousands of soldiers, security officers, judges, prosecutors, civil servants and academics suspected of being connected to the Gulen movement have been detained or suspended from their jobs following the putsch. Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric, has been accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup attempt. He “categorically” rejects the claim.

A demonstrator leans against a tree in Istanbul’s Taksim square on July 24, 2016 during the first cross-party rally to condemn the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP photo)

Turkish President declared a state of emergency after a failed military coup, for which it blames Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Turkish Muslim cleric, has been in self-imposed exile in US from his country since 1999.

In his first decree since imposing a three-month state of emergency after the coup attempt, Erdogan on Saturday authorized the closure of 1,043 private schools, 1,229 charities and foundations, 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 medical institutions for their suspected link to the Gulen movement.

Parliament must still approve the decree but it requires only a simple majority. The ruling AK Party, founded by Erdogan and in power since 2002, commands the majority of seats in parliament.

Erdogan has accused Gulen, who has many followers in Turkey and abroad, of masterminding last Friday’s failed coup, in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries. Gulen denies the charge and has condemned the coup.

The decree comes three days after a state of emergency was declared in Turkey, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in enacting new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.

Turkey has suspended 37,500 civil servants and police officers in the wake of the coup, including many from the education ministry, and also revoked the license of 21,000 teachers. The education ministry said it was looking to close more than 600 schools.

The number of people detained has surpassed 10,000 while more than 4,000 of those have been arrested. More than 7,000 of those detained are soldiers, including at least 120 generals.

Erdogan has pledged to “cleanse” the country’s institutions of the “virus” of Gulen supporters, drawing concerns from Turkey’s Western allies over his increasingly authoritarian stance.

Meanwhile, Ankara has escalated pressure on Washington to extradite Gulen, sending several “dossiers” that it says are packed with evidence about his alleged role in the failed coup.

The US had earlier said it would extradite Gulen if Turkey provided evidence, not allegations, that he was behind the coup attempt.

Fethullah Gulen, US-based Turkish Cleric and Opposition Leader

Concerns have been on the rise about the crackdown that the Turkish government has begun following the failure of the coup. The EU is particularly concerned as Ankara seeks accession to the bloc. One special area of concern is Ankara’s attempts to reintroduce the death penalty to allow the execution of those believed to have been involved in the coup bid.

Erdogan has lashed out at the critics of the sweeping purge in the country, stressing that Turkey will never make compromises on democracy.

By Alwaght