PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 44/064/2001
UA 228/01 Fear for safety 10 September 2001
TURKEYHuman Rights Foundation of Turkey
In a 7 September raid on the organisation’s Diyarbak_r offices, police
confiscated information on staff, other doctors supporting them and patients
at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), which provides treatment and
rehabilitation for people who have been tortured by the security forces. Doctors
and patients at the center are now at risk of harassment, arrest and torture.
The police arrived at 3pm without a search warrant. HRFT staff refused to let
them search the building, and the police called the Diyarbak_r Public
Prosecutor’s Office. By 5pm they had obtained a search warrant which ordered
the seizure of all documents related to the treatment of torture victims, which
it described as “illegal activities”. The police seized all the files and
documents in the office, including confidential medical files. The HRFT has
taken great care to keep this information confidential, as people known to
have complained of being tortured by the security forces face intimidation,
torture and “disappearance” to stop them pursuing their complaints.
The police left at 8pm, taking one of the doctors, Dr. Emin Yüksel, with them
to give a statement.
The HRFT, which was set up in 1990, has five treatment and rehabilitation
centers. More than 1000 people applied to the centers for treatment in 2000
alone. The Diyarbak_r center plays a crucial role in the treatment and
rehabilitation of torture victims in the southeast of Turkey, which is mainly
inhabited by Kurds and where torture and ill-treatment is especially widespread.
In 1998 the HRFT was awarded the Council of Europe’s European Human Rights
Prize for its “outstanding contribution to the protection of human rights in
Turkey” and the struggle for the abolition of torture.
The police are known to pursue people whose names they find in raids like this.
In May 1997 they raided the Diyarbakir branch of another human rights
organization, the Human Rights Association (IHD). Among other things they took
the office’s telephone bills. They then traced people called from the office,
and reportedly went to these people’s houses and questioned them and their
neighbors. One family known to have been in contact with IHD reportedly had
their house occupied by police officers for five days. They were beaten and
kicked, and for those five days the whole family had to stay in one room and
were only rarely permitted to eat or use the toilet.
Turkey is obliged to protect complainants and witnesses of torture against
ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of their complaints or any
evidence given, as a state party to the UN Convention against Torture.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
English, German, or your own language:
- expressing grave concern that police have confiscated confidential medical
files from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey’s Diyarbakir office;