EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 44/139/94
EXTRA 67/94 Fear of torture 23 November 1994
TURKEY Aheste Akbilek (f), health workers' trade unionist
Amnesty International fears that Aheste Akbilek is being subjected to torture
in custody. She was detained on 21 November 1994 during a raid on her home
in the Cebeci district of Ankara by police from the Anti-Terror Branch of Ankara
Security Headquarters. Her sister witnessed her detention.
Aheste Akbilek is a representative for Tüm Sa_l_k Sen (Health Workers Union).
She was detained previously on 15 April for two days before being released
without charge. Other members of Tüm Sa_l_k Sen have been tortured while being
detained in Ankara by the Anti-Terror Branch. On 17 April Firdevs K_rb_y_k
and Fatime Akal_n were detained in a raid on the office of the magazine Al_nteri
(Toil) by officers of the Anti-Terror Branch (see EXTRA 24/94, EUR 44/28/94,
22 April 1994 and update EUR 44/33/94 of 6 May). During their detention they
were subjected to severe torture which included being stripped naked, suspended
by the wrists, hosed with ice cold water, given electric shocks, and held in
a damp cell with only blankets to wrap themselves in. Amnesty International
fears that Aheste Akbilek may be subjected to the same torture.
Turkey ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture on 25
February 1988 and the UN Convention Against Torture on 2 August 1988. However,
all information available to Amnesty International indicates that torture is
still widespread and systematic in Turkey. Most allegations relate to
ill-treatment of detainees in police custody during their initial interrogation
when they are usually denied access to relatives or a lawyer. The maximum period
of 24 hours, for which a non-political detainee may be held before being formally
charged or released, may be extended to eight days in cases of ordinary crimes
involving three or more suspects. Detainees held on suspicion of political
offences to be tried in State Security Courts may be held without charge for
15 days. This period may be extended to 30 days in provinces under emergency
legislation or martial law. Emergency legislation is currently in force in
10 provinces in the southeast of Turkey.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) of the Council
of Europe, of which Turkey is a member, and the UN Committee against Torture
(UN CAT) have both published reports to the effect that torture is widespread
and systematic in Turkey.
Amnesty International has received many reports of torture at Ankara Police
Headquarters. The headquarters were visited on a number of occasions by the
ECPT and in December 1992 the ECPT published its findings in a public statement.
The ECPT announced that during an impromptu visit to Ankara Police Headquarters
they had found "a low stretcher-type bed equipped with eight straps (four each
side), fitting perfectly the description of the item of furniture to which
persons had said they were secured when electric shocks were administered to
them. No credible explanation could be proffered for the presence of this bed
in what was indicated by a sign as being an `interrogation room'".
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Aheste Akbilek detained on 21 November