Turkey: Deaths in Custody

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12 September 1980 to 12 September 2000

The "Trilogy" under the main heading Turkey: The Right to Life includes

The corresponding lists can be found at the bottom of the each page.

At the beginning I wanted to start with the findings of Amnesty International (AI) but later discovered that the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) had compiled lists for 14 years since the military coup and 15 years since the military coup (12 September 1980 to 12 September 1995). While an AI report of February 1991 stated that the revised list of the organization showed 192 cases of death in custody (DIC) with a suspicion that they might be the result of torture, adding that in 34 cases the official response from Turkey had confirmed the use of torture, the HRFT came up with a figure of 419 deaths in custody within 15 years since the military coup.

I have taken the list of the HRFT as the basis. The first task was to exclude the cases of the early 1980s that belong to the category of "disappearances" that became "prominent" in the 1990s. Deaths in prison were included if they were the result of beatings (and not shooting, which would rather be an EJE). While suicides in prison can be the result of torture (setting oneself on fire in protest at torture or death as a result of hunger strikes against torture) these cases have not been included. It is also possible that prisoners commit suicide in custody (at police or gendarmerie stations). However, security is very high in custody and prisoners are usually not held on their own. Adding further circumstances such as the height of the cells officially frequently alleged suicides in custody are not likely and, therefore have been included. The "famous" jumps out of upper floor windows of police headquarters may be a way to put an end to one's life, but even if this is the case it may have been in an attempt to avoid further torture. But in many cases these "jumps" were not done voluntarily, e.g. the victims were pushed.

Under DIC one of the difficulties is the separation to cases that could be the result of medical neglect (in particular in prison). There are several cases where people died after release. For those a decision had to be made, whether the illness that caused the death could directly be related to torture or not.

Another problem are people who were found dead after detention. The information available does not always indicate whether these people were shot or died as a result of injuries inflicted during detention. It is impossible to claim that all cases were a direct result of torture, but for the cases included in the list the assumption is that there is a suspicion that torture or ill-treatment contributed decisively to the deaths.

The list of the HRFT had to be completed up to September 2000 (to cover a period of 20 years). I did this using the annual reports of the HRFT for those years. Using the categories listed above I deleted some 75 cases from the list. On the other hand I found some 50 further cases (i.e. in my private archives) and included them so that the current list is comprised of 428 cases, again for a period of 20 years between 12 September 1980 and 12 September 2000. For the years the figures are:

1980
37
1981
64
1982
37
1983
17
1984
12
1985
19
1986
15
1987
16
1988
13
1989
9
1990
8
1991
17
1992
17
1993
28
1994
31
1995
19
1996
32
1997
12
1998
15
1999
8
2000
2
Total
428

Where to go from here: The simple lists contain mainly name, date and place, while the commented lists are intended for people with knowledge of Turkish to make contributions or use it in their own work.

Texts (Wiki) Simple Lists Commented Lists
Turkey: The Right to Life "Disappearances" rtf 922kB "Disappearances" xls 370kB
Turkey: "Disappearances" Deaths in Custody rtf 582kB Deaths in Custody xls 112 kB
Turkey: Deaths in Custody Killings by Armed Groups rtf 1,7mB Killings by Armed Groups xls 377kB
Turkey: Killings by Armed Groups Killed Teachers html 99kB Killed Teachers xls 41 kB
Killed Journalists html 51kB Killed Journalists xls 46kB
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