In February 1988 Turkey ratified
the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture; in August it ratified
the United Nations Convention against Torture. Torture nevertheless continues
to be widespread and systematic. Despite repeated calls by Amnesty International
the Turkish Government has failed to implement effective measures against
Over the last seven months alone,
since Turkey ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture, Amnesty
International has received hundreds of torture allegations, including re
ports that in some cases torture had resulted in the death of the prisoner.
Most alleged torture and deaths in custody as a result of torture are reported
to have taken place during the first days of interrogation.
One of the most recent cases concerns
the death of Neriman Papis, born 1944. On 9 January 1989 she was
taken into custody and interrogated by the second branch of Istanbul Police
Headquarters on suspicion of pickpocketing. On 13 January she was rushed
to Taksim Hospital, al ready in a coma. She died here the following day.
Officials from Istanbul Police Headquarters
declared that she had fallen into a drug-related coma, but officials in
the hospital and two independent witnesses stated that her body had been
bruised and there had been traces of burning caused by electric shocks.
Six fellow detainees alleged that she had been tortured in their presence.
On 1 February 1989 Amnesty International
submitted the case to the Turkish authorities, but had not received a reply
at the end of March. Amnesty International was informed by lawyers acting
on behalf of Neriman Papis that they had still not been able to obtain
an autopsy report two months after the death.
On 10 June 1988 Amnesty International
submitted to the Turkish authorities a list of 229 names of people
who were reported to have died in custody between September 1980 and April
1988, seeking clarification concerning the cause of death of these prisoners.
On 28 September 1988 the Turkish authorities sent a reply on 55 of the
229 cases. They later updated the information in one case and provided
information on a further case. In 13 cases the authorities admitted that
torture had occurred by referring to legal actions against torturers who
later were convicted.
On 8 December 1988 Amnesty International
wrote again to the Turkish Government evaluating the information the organization
had been given so far. To this letter a list of cases on which further
clarification was sought and 10 new cases was attached. On 4 January
1989 Amnesty International made its information public in a report
Turkey: Torture and Deaths in Detention (AI Index: EUR 44/101/88). This
information was also published in the Amnesty International Newsletter
Subsequently the list of 144 names
of prisoners believed to have died in custody as a result of torture and
about whom Amnesty International was seeking information from the Turkish
authorities was published in the Turkish press. On the basis of this information
independent sources in Turkey provided further details about a number of
cases including cases Amnesty International had not been informed about
thus far. This information confirmed torture in many cases. In one case
the cause of death was given as suicide after severe torture and in four
cases prisoners mentioned in the list were reported to be still alive.
One of them is Ergün Sen.
His case had first been submitted to the Turkish authorities on 16 February
1982 and again on 10 June 1988. Since Amnesty International had not received
a reply his name had been included in the list published on 4 January 1989.
Subsequently Amnesty International received information that he was still
alive and later also got a letter from the prisoner himself. He wrote from
"I was detained on 21 June 1980 by
Bursa Political Police. I refused to sign a statement prepared against
me. When despite various torture sessions and threats I did not confess
to the charges, they threw me from the fifth floor of Bursa Police Headquarters.
By mere chance I survived. Like me, other people were thrown from the fifth
or sixth floor of Bursa Police Headquarters, but only I survived.
On the same day I was taken to hospital
and completely put into plaster. After nine days I was transferred from
Bursa to Istanbul Political Police. I stayed there for a week. On 9 July
1980 I was formally arrested. During the whole time I was not allowed to
see my family. The police officers had told fellow detainees that I had
died and they had used this as a means of threat. The plaster was very
tight and I had difficulty breathing. This brought me close to death a
In the meantime I was sentenced to
death in 1984 by a military court as a Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left)
defendant. This sentence was confirmed in 1986 by the Military Appeal Court.
Although there is a legal obligation to submit the verdict to the defendant
within one month (in order to allow us to appeal against it) until today
I have not received the verdict. Maybe the Turkish State really believed
that I had "disappeared".
On 1 February 1989 Amnesty International
informed the Turkish authorities that Ergün Sen was still alive. This
information was published in Turkey on 7 February 1989.
In mid-February 1989 Amnesty International
received news reports that the Turkish Government had responded to the
organization's concern about deaths in custody and the response
was received by the organization on 7 March. The government stated
that 112 of the 144 deaths listed by Amnesty International were
not related to torture, but that in 32 cases torture had been involved.
On 31 March the organization received an additional response on further
10 cases, acknowledging torture in one further case. The other cases were
explained as 'suicide', 'natural death' or 'death in an armed clash' with
the security forces.
The figure of 33 torture related
deaths is more than twice that acknowledged by the government previously
and also includes cases in which courts have been unable to identify the
torturers. Nevertheless, a number of further cases have come to Amnesty
International's attention. The authorities had previously admitted to seven
further cases by stating that legal actions against torturers had been
initiated resulting in conviction. In addition to these 40 cases Amnesty
International is informed that torturers were convicted in another seven
cases making a total of 47 cases in which torture has firmly
been established to be the cause of death. Nine of these deaths occurred
before 12 September 1980 (see attached list).
The reply of 2 March 1989 also mentioned
10 people as still being alive including three of the four people Amnesty
International had already informed the authorities about. In the remaining
seven cases Amnesty International has reasons to believe that these people
were detained and died in custody, even though their corpses have never
One of these cases concerns Mahmut
Kaya. He had been included in the list of 10 June 1988, giving 25 December
1980 and Kars as the most likely date and place of death. On 2 March 1989
the Turkish authorities responded by saying that he was wanted for an incident
in 1980 in Kars. Amnesty International's information indicates that Mahmut
Kaya was detained on 23 December 1980 and taken to Kars Police Headquarters
where he was interrogated about allegedly having put up a banner for the
illegal organization Devrimci Yol (Revolutionary Path). Six fellow detainees
later publicly stated that they were witnesses to Mahmut Kaya's death.
One of them alleged that she had been forced to burn the clothes of Mahmut
During Mahmut Kaya's detention his
parents received an anonymous telephone call informing them that their
son was held at Kars Police Headquarters. Despite all their efforts they
were not able to see their son and were told that no such person was held
there. According to an article published in the weekly journal 2000e Dogru
(Towards 2000) on 17 April 1988 his father, Sebahattin Kaya, was still
trying to establish the whereabouts of his son and had sent repeated appeals
to the authorities. In March 1989 Amnesty International received information
from an independent source in Turkey that Mahmut Kaya actually died on
3 January 1981 at Kars Police Headquarters. The organization continues
to seek further clarification from the authorities on this case.
In another case the authorities gave
contradictory information. The name of Halil Gündogan reported
to have died on 2 August 1980 in Istanbul was first submitted to the authorities
on 7 September 1981. Amnesty International received a reply on 25 March
1982 stating that Halil Dogan (GÜNAYDIN) had been found wounded and
had died on the way to hospital. An investigation was said to be in progress.
On 10 June and 8 December 1988 Amnesty International asked about the findings
of the investigation stating that the name originally given might have
been incorrect. The reply of 2 March 1989 stated that Halil Gündogan
was alive and had escaped on 23 April 1988 from Metris Military Prison.
In most of the 121 cases in the Turkish
Government's lists of 2 and 31 March 1989 said by the Turkish Government
not to be related to torture Amnesty International considered that the
replies were far from satisfactory. In some eases exact information on
the cause of death was missing; in others causes given as "suicide" or
"death in an armed clash" often contradict information received by Amnesty
International from other sources. In some cases the authorities have even
In December 1982, January and May
1983 Amnesty International asked for information concerning allegations
of torture and the subsequent death of Mustafa Asim Hayrullahoglu.
No reply was received.
His family, however, received two
letters from the authorities. In one, the Martial Law Prosecutor for Istanbul
stated that Mustafa Asim Hayrullahoglu had been detained on 21 October
1982 and had committed suicide on 26 October. In the other, the Public
Prosecutor for Istanbul stated that he had been detained on 5 November
1982, had become sick on 16 November and had died on his way to hospital.
Court documents show that Mustafa Asim Hayrullahoglu had been detained
on 14 November 1982 as an alleged member of the Turkish Communist Party
and when he arrived at the hospital on 16 November 1982 he was dead.
Despite an initial ban on reporting
court proceedings Amnesty International later found out that a trial of
five policemen, charged with the death of Mustafa Asim Hayrullahoglu, had
opened on 7 May 1984. On 1 April 1986 Istanbul Military Court No. 2, made
up of three military judges, convicted three of the five defendants to
10 years and eight months' imprisonment. None of those convicted was imprisoned
while the verdict was under appeal. Meanwhile Chief Inspector Ümit
Bavbek, one of the convicted policemen, was promoted to the position of
Chief of Kadiköy Police Station.
On 25 November 1986, the Military
Appeal Court ruled that the defendants had to be retried because of "insufficient
investigation". On 20 December 1986 military judges Nuh Cetinkaya and Naci
Gürkan, who had voted in favour of a conviction in April, were officially
suspended and appointed to different courts. The retrial started on 28
January 1987 at Istanbul Military Court No. 2, with Tahsin Ince, the remaining
judge from the original trial who had voted for acquittal, and two other
judges, who had not been involved in the case. On 4 May 1988 Istanbul Military
Court acquitted all the policemen. This verdict, however, was quashed on
appeal and the trial is due to start a third time at Istanbul Military
In reply to Amnesty International's
most recent inquiries in June 1988 the Turkish authorities on 28 September
1988 simply stated that three police officers were acquitted. The reply
of 2 March 1989, however, offered a completely new version stating that
"he had encountered an armed clash with the security forces, escaped and
subsequently had died on 16 November 1982 in Istanbul".
Among the cases where Amnesty International's
information contradicts the official response is that of Behzat Firik.
It appears that an investigation into his death on 10 October 1981 in Tunceli
only started after a weekly journal had reported it in March 1987. The
official reply of 28 September 1988 stated that the investigation of Ovacik
Prosecutor's Office was still going on. The reply of 2 March 1989 stated
that Behzat Firik had been shot when he tried to escape. A trial (of the
detaining gendarmes) had resulted in acquittal.
Behzat Firik's brother, Ali Ekber
Firik, described the events leading to the death of Behzat Firik as follows:
"One day a group of some 20 gendarmes
came to our village and rounded us up in front of our houses. They asked
whether any 'educated' people were among us. My brother Behzat had finished
grammar school. They told him to come with them and show them the way.
I was suspicious and followed them. When they saw me I was taken to the
Behzat's hands were tied behind his
back, his head was completely red from beatings. Later we were taken to
another place. Some 150 gendarmes were sitting around a fire. The commander
ordered them to tie me to a tree and to undress Behzat. Then they told
my brother that anarchists were in the area and he should tell them where
they were. When he said he did not know they touched his mouth and tongue
with a bayonet which had been heated in the fire.
Then five or six gendarmes took Behzat
into the woods. They brought him back unconscious. They threw a parka over
me and shouted 'the anarchists are fleeing, shoot'. When firing stopped
they took the parka off my head. Behzat was lying on his back, naked. He
Another case is that of Ömer
Aydogmus. He died in February 1981 at Izmir Police Headquarters. In
the response to Amnesty International's inquiries of 10 June 1988 the authorities
replied on 2 March 1989 that he had committed suicide by an overdose of
pills. His death is described by fellow detainees in a completely different
Ömer Aydogmus was detained together
with Fevzi Isik suspected of an attack on Kemeralti Police Station shortly
after it occurred on 2 February 1981. Fevzi Isik later alleged that he
had spent 70 days in incommunicado detention and that Ömer Aydogmus
had died after 10 days under interrogation. He described in detail how
both of them had been subjected to falaka (beating of the soles of the
feet) and had been suspended by their wrists. He said that they were tortured
during the day and had to stand in the corridor during evenings and nights.
"A new day here means another session
of torture. First, they take Ömer then me. Around midday I am tied
to the stone floor. A long period of waiting. Ömer comes very late.
Again he stays on the stone floor just as they left him. Ömer is whimpering
and oblivious to his surroundings. ... After this day Ömer's situation
gets definitely worse. He has to be dragged away, after three to four hours
he is dragged back. He lies there like jelly. I put my ear to his mouth
and a sound like 'pih' can be heard. For a short time he is breathing noisily.
Then foam comes out of his mouth. Then his breathing stops altogether.
A pharmacist takes his pulse and states that Ömer is dead."
Afterwards the father of Ömer
Aydogmus was told that his son was poisoned by taking too much medicine.
The father did not believe this explanation and made a formal complaint
to the Izmir Prosecutor's Office. During the investigation a medical report
dated 18 February 1981 indicating six broken ribs was taken as evidence
and seven police officers were put on trial. The police officers claimed
in court that the detainee attacked them when they attempted to detain
him and was injured when he and the police officers fell down the stairs.
Again, this explanation is contradicted by the testimony of Fevzi Isik
who said that neither of them resisted when the police raided their home.
In over 40 cases the Turkish Government
listed deaths as being due to natural causes. Brief reference was made
to the cause of death but in virtually none of the cases was sufficient
clinical information provided to give any picture of the circumstances
in which deaths occurred. A number of deaths, for example, were attributed
to tuberculosis, diabetes or pneumonia without any further information
on whether the prisoners were receiving treatment.
Reports indicate that prisoners in
Turkey have in the past often had little or no access to medical treatment
and there remains serious concern about the adequacy of provision of medical
care. Amnesty International believes that some of these deaths may have
been preventable had the prisoners had access to adequate medical care
and had their illness been properly diagnosed and treated. However, cases
which may be due to medical neglect, but for which Amnesty International
has no further indication that the deaths were directly related to torture,
have been excluded from the attached list. Other cases without contradictory
information, for example, to be the result of a hunger-strike, have also
Amnesty International has again submitted
to the Turkish authorities all cases of reported deaths in custody in which
the circumstances of death have not been fully clarified, seeking further
clarification. The attached list contains names, dates and places relating
to 172 cases (13 before 12 September 1980) in which the Turkish
authorities either did not provide any information or where the official
response contradicts information received by Amnesty International from
other sources. The 47 cases (nine before 12 September 1980) where the deaths
have been established to be the result of torture are listed at the end.
Amnesty International remains concerned
that it has not received satisfactory explanations from the Turkish Government
about over 170 deaths in custody which occurred in the last 10 years and
that most of these deaths appear to be related to torture. The organization
believes that most of these cases have not been thoroughly investigated
and has urged the Turkish Government to initiate impartial investigations
into all those cases where the cause of death remains unclear.
Continue to the list of deaths in custody.