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Amnesty: Turks Rounded Up After Coup Attempt Starved, Tortured, Raped

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks after an emergency meeting of the government in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo)

Amnesty International said thousands rounded up by the Turkish government after the failed coup attempt against the Islamist ruling party have faced rape, starvation and torture behind bars.

The group said Sunday that more than 10,000 people — mostly soldiers deemed loyal to the secular state but also judges, prosecutors, police and other civil servants, both men and women — have been detained both in regular jail facilities and in “informal” locations, such as the stables at a riding club and the sports hall at Ankara’s police headquarters.

Accounts of the treatment being suffered by detainees were given by lawyers, doctors and one person working at a detention facility. Detainees are being denied access to family members and attorneys and are not being informed of the charges levied against them.

Amnesty heard “extremely alarming accounts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees,” including senior military officers being raped with police batons, food being withheld for up to three days at a time and water being withheld for two days, and detainees being zip-tied into stress positions. Those suffering vicious beatings are often not receiving medical care; one person told the human-rights group that a police doctor was heard saying of a severely beaten detainee, “Let him die. We will say he came to us dead.”

The group found only one detainee who was able to choose her own lawyer. Lawyers have reported detainees coming to interrogations in blood-soaked shirts and some trying to commit suicide.

They said a pattern has emerged in the reports: the higher the rank of the soldier held, the worse the treatment.

“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,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“…Despite chilling images and videos of torture that have been widely broadcast across the country, the government has remained conspicuously silent on the abuse. Failing to condemn ill-treatment or torture in these circumstances is tantamount to condoning it.”

The Turkish government’s purge isn’t limited to people they accuse of somehow being connected to the coup attempt.

Hurriyet reported that Turkish officials are now “investigating” people who floated the theory on social media that the coup attempt may have been a false flag operation for Recep Tayyip Erodgan to tighten his grip on power and eliminate his enemies.

“Just look at the people who are saying on social media that this was a theater. Public prosecutors are already investigating them,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Sunday on Turkish TV.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said a pro-government outlet issued a blacklist of “dissent journalists” to be detained. A few days later, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human-rights lawyer and journalist, was arrested at Istanbul’s airport while trying to board a flight to London.

“The Observatory recalls that the arrests take place against the backdrop of the deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey. Since July 2015, the authorities have launched a massive crackdown on some civil society organisations abusively depicted as ‘terrorist networks,'” the group said. “The campaign targeted dozens of peaceful activists who have been involved in the monitoring of human rights violations resulting from anti-terrorism operations and who have been advocating for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue, including NGO members, lawyers, political party representatives and journalists.”