Torture cases encountered on a spiritual journey to the Milky Way
“We are actually making a spiritual journey starting from our inner world toward the universe.” This was how Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan started his speech at the iftar (fast-breaking) dinner for ambassadors in Ankara on July 23.
Erdoğan described the month of Ramadan as a “banquet in the Milky Way.” “Ramadan and fasting are a journey in the dimension of time. During Ramadan, on one hand, we set a course to discover our own inner world, and, on the other, we take a journey from our self to the Milky Way, from our personality to the world of others.”
According to the prime minister, here lies the meaning of Ramadan: “With self-inflicted hunger and thirst, one tries to understand and feel others’ problems, miseries and needs.”
Get a beating first, then justice
Now, let’s be inspired by these words of the prime minister and in this month of Ramadan and expose ourselves to others’ problems and miseries; for example, let’s try to feel and understand the plight of those victimized people, of those who have been subject to torture and ill-treatment.
Let’s try to hear their cries because “torturers” are awarded and protected, in other words, because injustice has been reigning on a rampant scale.
For example, let’s remember that a police chief whose name has been involved in torture incidents that led to Turkey being convicted twice in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has been promoted to the position of Istanbul deputy police director.
Now, for a moment, let’s put ourselves in the place of Asiye Zeybek Güzel, who tells us that she has been tortured by this police chief. What would we feel? Would we be able to say “Well, carelessness…” and move on?
Or imagine for a moment that you are Ahmet Koca, who was beaten black and blue by a total of seven policemen in Istanbul’s Fatih district in June, the images of which were watched by millions of people on TV.
The investigation against the policemen who beat you has not been finalized yet but upon their complaints, a case has already been opened against you with the demand of five years in prison for resisting public officers and similar crimes.
Yes, you have it right, you are a defendant. In addition to being beaten, as a “bonus” you are taken to court, and if everything goes accordingly, you can even be convicted; don’t be surprised, prepare yourself.
Really, if you were in Ahmet Koca’s place, what would you feel?
Don’t ever offend your torturers
Now, let’s enter the world of another victim: Put yourself for a moment in the shoes of Fevziye Cengiz, who was driven into a corner, forced to the ground at a police station in İzmir and brutally kicked and beaten last July. Two policemen have put you down, climbed on top of you and hit you mercilessly.
All of Turkey has seen the beating, the images are on YouTube. But you are being tried on charges of “resisting and insulting the police.” The third trial of the case has been held. Right, the police officers who beat you are also on trial, but they are facing five years and nine months while you are facing six years and five months in jail.
Also, just a while ago, your abusers were appointed to Istanbul. Don’t ever try to get angry at this. Didn’t you offend them by insulting them?
You are Fevziye Cengiz, and after all this has happened, how do you feel?
A very old tradition of this land
How about taking the place of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Pervin Buldan, whose foot was broken on July 14 because of police violence as she was trying to march to the square in Diyarbakır?
In what kind of a world of sentiments would you find yourself while your foot is plastered and you’re trying to walk with crutches?
Look, what comes out of a Milky Way journey?
Torturing people, with the backing of the power of the state, has been a very old tradition in this land and it seems apparent that this endeavor will continue forever in its journey, like the Milky Way, toward the infinity of time.
This is despite the fact that this is the country of those who “believe injustice is good for no one” and, inter alia, ensure that there is “zero tolerance” on torture.
Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Aug 2. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.