CHP: Horrible rise in torture cases during AKP rule
Emine Kart - ANKARATorture has been increasingly conducted during the reign of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as government policy, a leading member of the main opposition party has stated while presenting a “report card on the AKP during 2002-2015.”
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu made a press statement on June 26, on the occasion of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, during which he shared the details of the report.
“If we look closely, in the last two years, the AKP has followed policies which gave rise to a horrible increase in the number of torture incidents. The torture cases, which were around 900 when the AKP came to power, reached a horrible figure like 5,671 in 2015… This suffices in cracking wide open the real face of the AKP, which overtly tortures dissidents in order to remain in power,” Tanrıkulu said.
“On the other hand, it is extremely noteworthy that Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey [TİHV], who has run the most effective endeavors on the issue of the rehabilitation of torture victims, has been unlawfully spending this year’s June 26 in prison. Ms. Fincancı’s detention is a message given to torturers, an award. This unlawful detention needs to be ended immediately,” he also said.
The June 20 detention of Fincancı has also been high on the agenda of the third largest party in the national assembly, the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with its co-leader having acted as a symbolic co-editor of a pro-Kurdish daily newspaper in a show of solidarity days after Fincancı, along with two journalists, was arrested on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda by participating in the same campaign and acting as symbolic co-editors.
HDP co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ was “on duty” on June 23 in front of the Bakırköy Women Closed Prison in Istanbul, where internationally-acclaimed human rights defender Fincancı remained detained and kept in solitary confinement cell.
‘Life, resistance, truth, prison’
Yüksekdağ also sent a letter to Fincancı to show her solidarity with the imprisoned professor.
“My Dear Şebnem Professor, we are at the place which you left for the sake of having the truth set free. For the freedom of those who stand for reality and for freedom of reality, we will never stop. We are also on duty to get you and the editors-in-chief on duty under arrest out of this prison. Life, resistance and truth will not recognize any prison. My warm regards,” the HDP co-chair wrote in her letter shared with the media by the party’s press office.
Fincancı and two other prominent figures, Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and journalist Ahmet Nesin, was arrested on June 20 after supporting the “Editor-in-Chief on Duty” campaign in solidarity with daily Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda), which was started on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.
On June 20, the three appeared before the prosecutor on terror and organized crime at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse under accusations of “making terror propaganda.”
The prosecutor subsequently referred them to the magistrate judge of the First Criminal Court of Peace, who formally indicted them under the same accusations of “making terror propaganda” in relation with their participation in the “Editor-in-Chief on Duty” campaign.
While Fincancı remained detained at the Bakırköy Women Closed Prison, Önderoğlu and Nesin were held in Metris Prison in Istanbul.
On June 22, Fincancı shared a message with “her friends” through her attorney, Meriç Eyüboğlu, who claimed in an interview with İMC TV there were unfavorable conditions at the Bakırköy Closed Women Prison, online news portal Bianet reported.
“She will have [the] right to go out to [the] prison yard for one hour during the whole day and won’t be able to see anyone […] she is literally in isolation,” Eyüboğlu said.
In her message shared with “her friends” through her attorney, Fincancı said, “My dears, friends. My heart is with you, and I know yours is too. Thus, hail to those who meet our hearts; shall they know that by this hail, I am conveying them the picture of our solidarity, which will be a thorn in their flesh. We all struggle for this homeland, for our people. The pride of this struggle belongs to us all. I hug you tight.”
Esra Mungan, one of the four academics released by a local court in Istanbul in April after the first hearing of a trial opened against them for making “terrorist propaganda” when they read out a joint petition in January signed by over 1000 colleagues calling on the government to end the security operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was also initially held in solitary confinement.
On March 15, three members of Academics for Peace were jailed for announcing they would begin an “academic vigil,” including Mungan, an expert in cognitive psychology at Boğaziçi University, Kıvanç Ersoy, a mathematician at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and Muzaffer Kaya, a political scientist formerly at Nişantaşı University - all based in Istanbul. The court also requested the arrest of Meral Camcı, formerly of Istanbul’s Yeni Yüzyıl University. This was not possible at the time because she was in France, but she was sent to prison on April 1 upon her return to Turkey.