News & Politics

Turkey: 'Enemies' Held at Unknown Locations, Rumors of Torture

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan right, wipes his tears during the funeral of Mustafa Cambaz, Erol and Abdullah Olcak, killed Friday while protesting the attempted coup against Turkey's government, in Istanbul, Sunday, July 17, 2016. Rather than toppling Turkey's strongman president, a failed military coup appears to have bolstered Erdogan's immediate grip on power and boosted his popularity. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Turkey (I’m just going to assume it was indeed a real attempt, and not a fake one orchestrated by President Erdogan himself), some 10,000 individuals have been arrested. Some of them are members of the military and were involved in the attempted coup.

Most, however, are not.

As Sky News reports, many of the detainees are judges, prosecutors, teachers, civil servants and journalists. All these people have been rounded up because they’re supposedly part of a “parallel organization” that was behind the failed coup: the Gülenist “terror group,” as Erdogan likes to call them.

Of course there is a minor problem with that: the military takeover was masterminded and carried out by the military. Journalists, prosecutors, judges, civil servants, academics and teachers had absolutely nothing to do with it, which tends to be the case with military coups. In fact, it’s why we call them military takeovers and not civilian coups.

Be that as it may, Erdogan understands that the failed coup provides him with the opportunity he needed to rid himself of all those he suspects of not being blindly loyal to him. Some of these people may have ties to the Gülen movement, others may not. Their real sin is that they aren’t diehard Erdoganists. And so they need to go. Now.

That’s problematic in itself — after all, it means that Erdogan has changed an attempted military coup into a coup of his own. But what’s even worse is that the detainees are treated in a manner reminiscent of successful military takeovers: they’re rounded up in what are little more than razzias, after which they’re detained in unknown locations, where they are severely mistreated:

Standing in the blazing heat, next to the bullet-ridden remains that was Ankara’s police headquarters, we found a small group of people waiting for news.

They wanted to know what had happened to their loved ones, husbands and sons, who disappeared after the attempted coup.

“We haven’t heard a thing for days,” said one mother. “Can you help us, can you help us to find where he’s gone?”

And:

We spoke to one tired-looking advocate called Ilkin Houdal, who said conditions on the inside on these holding centres is very poor.

He added: “What we know is that people are being tortured. We can’t get access to police headquarters but we hear that detainees have been thrown to the ground, their heads stepped on with boots, really roughed up. When lawyers have tried to intervene they’ve been badly treated.”

Welcome to the New Turkey of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which human rights are suspended and everyone not blindly loyal to The Great Leader is detained.