Police chief suspended upon PM's order for handcuffing women

Police chief suspended upon PM's order for handcuffing women

Police chief suspended upon PMs order for handcuffing women A provincial police chief has been suspended for the handcuffing of female suspects wearing headscarves during raids launched as part of probes into the alleged “parallel structure,” as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu ordered an investigation into recent incidents in which police officers’ mistreatment of people have sparked outrage.

Davutoğlu ordered the Interior Ministry “to start an investigation concerning the inappropriate approach of security forces toward citizens and actions that are not in line with procedures concerning citizens taken into custody within the framework of probes that are conducted,” the Anadolu Agency quoted an official from the Prime Ministry as saying on the evening of Nov. 11.

Davutoğlu highlighted that “regardless of the content of the probe, required sensitivity should be displayed on the issue of safeguarding everybody’s rights within the framework of the procedures in the law,” the same official said, as the agency noted that the instruction from the prime minister concerned the handcuffing of female suspects during “parallel state structure” raids in the western provinces of Eskişehir and Manisa, as well as an incident in Istanbul’s central Beyoğlu district, where two police officers were seen on video slapping and threatening two university students. 

The Manisa Governor’s Office told the agency on Nov. 12 that the province’s police chief had been suspended for his conduct in the incident.

“The placing of somebody who has not been proven guilty of any offense … especially of ladies wearing headscarves who have a very positive image in society, has been met with sadness at every level,” the office said.

The statement, however, drew the ire of the opposition. “As a person from Manisa, I’m embarrassed by this statement which highlights that women who don’t wear headscarves have a negative image in society,” said Özgür Özel, a Manisa deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), dubbing the governor’s office’s statement “a precise discourse of hate” and suggesting “the governor should be sent to Mars.”

Still, the suspension of the police chief was “an appropriate step,” he said, while nonetheless urging that police officers be removed from duty in similar cases for all social groups.

Regardless of who the person is, handcuffing during detention violates “human honor,” CHP Secretary-General Gürsel Tekin said. 

Tekin said the wording by the Manisa Governor’s Office was “very dangerous and divisive.”

Istanbul police, meanwhile, had already released a statement with the headline “Police slap young man in Beyoğlu after quarrel” and reported the related incident on Nov. 11, saying the action would be opened to a disciplinary investigation in addition to the suspension of the two police officers in question during the continuing investigation. It was reported that two university students and police officers engaged in a verbal quarrel in Beyoğlu on Oct. 30.

Media outlets linked to Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based preacher who was once a key supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Davutoğlu and founded by Erdoğan, particularly reacted against the handcuffing of women wearing headscarves.

Dozens of high-ranking civil servants and police officers have been detained in several cities as part of a probe into supporters of Gülen on charges of trying to form a state parallel to the state of the Republic of Turkey.

Gülen’s organization, which is purported to have followers in the police and judiciary, helped Erdoğan in the first years after his Justice and Development Party (AKP) was elected in 2002. But the two later fell out after police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to the cleric opened a corruption investigation into Erdoğan’s inner circle in 2013.