EXTERNAL AI Index: EUR 44/17/97
EXTRA 33/97 Fear of "disappearance" / Fear of torture 11 March 1997
TURKEYFikri Özgen, Kurd, aged 73
There are grave fears for the safety of Fikri Özgen who is believed to be in
detention in Diyarbak_r. A released detainee claims to have seen him at the
Gendarmerie Headquarters (JITEM) in Diyarbak_r, but the authorities have so
far failed to acknowledge that he is in their custody.
At about 9.30am on 27 February 1997, a relative and neighbours saw four armed
men, believed to be plainclothes police officers, stop Fikri Özgen outside
his house in the 5 April district of Diyarbak_r, check his identity and drive
him away in a Toros car (registration: 34 BHV 60). His family have applied
in vain for information as to his whereabouts to the Diyarbak_r Police
Headquarters, the Detention Monitoring Office, the State Security Court, the
Parliamentary Human Rights Commission and the Emergency Region Governor as
well as the Diyarbak_r Provincial Governor.
Fikri Özgen and his family had lived in Kulp, province of Diyarbak_r, but moved
to Diyarbak_r after their house was shelled by a tank. One of Fikri Özgen's
sons, reportedly a member of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), was killed in
a clash with a military unit in Istanbul in 1992. Another son is a political
prisoner in Çanakkale Prison, while a third son is said to be with the PKK.
Two of Fikri Özgen’s nephews were killed, apparently as active PKK members,
while Kerem Özgen, another nephew, was killed in an unsolved political murder
In recent months a spate of "disappearances" have occurred in Diyarbak_r where
people were either taken from their homes at night or picked up in the street
in broad daylight by plainclothes police. In some cases their bodies have later
been found. In all cases they were thought to have relatives "in the mountains"
as active members of the PKK.
Procedures laid down in the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code for the prompt
and proper registration of detainees, and for notification to their families,
are almost universally ignored. Lack of prompt registration and notification
is extremely distressing for the families of detainees, and creates the
conditions in which "disappearances" and torture can occur.
People suspected of offences under the Anti-Terror Law can be held in police
custody without access to family, friends or legal counsel for up to 30 days
in the nine provinces currently under State of Emergency, and for 15 days in
the rest of Turkey. New provisions for detention procedures were voted on by
parliament on 7 March 1997, but have not yet come into force.
When not being interrogated, detainees are held in cramped, airless and
insanitary conditions. With no access to the outside world they are at the
mercy of their interrogators. Torture is often applied to extract confessions,
to elicit information about illegal organizations, to intimidate detainees
into becoming police informers or as informal punishment for presumed support
of illegal organizations. Torture methods include being stripped naked and
blindfolded, hosing with pressurized ice-cold water, hanging by the arms or
wrists bound behind the victim's back, electric shocks, beating the soles of
the feet, death threats and sexual assault.