PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 44/066/2001
EXTRA 65/01 Fear of torture 17 September 2001
TURKEY15 HADEP members in Varto/Mu_:
Abdulbasit Ta_, also member of Human Rights Association (IHD), Mu_ branch
Behçet Özen (district head of HADEP)
More than 20 members of the legal pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HADEP),
including the 15 people named above, were arrested by police and gendarmes
in Varto, in the southeastern province of Mu_, in the early hours of 14 September.
They are now held incommunicado at the Anti-Terror branch of Mu_ Police
Headquarters, where it is believed they are being tortured. The charges against
them are not known.
Two others arrested with them were released the same day. On 15 September at
5 or 6am police brought _irin Ta_ with them when they searched his home for
a weapon. He was blindfolded and his hands were tightly bound. The police
reportedly beat him, his mother, wife and sister during the house search. The
family believe that _irin Ta_ had been severely tortured. From what they saw
they believe that the bones in his hands were broken.
Two of the detainees reportedly suffer from health problems: Abdulbasit Ta_
has a bone disease; and Kas_m Sever is diabetic, and does not have the necessary
medicine with him. Amnesty International is concerned that prolonged
deprivation of his medicine could have grave consequences.
Police in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of the country
frequently arrest political dissidents on “suspicion” of offences such as
membership of illegal armed groups or aiding and abetting such groups as police
can hold such people in custody for longer than ordinary detainees. People
suspected of such offences, which fall under the jurisdiction of the State
Security Courts, can be held in police custody without access to family, friends
or legal counsel for up to four days. This may be extended by a further three
days on the orders of a prosecutor. After the maximum period detainees must
be brought before a prosecutor and a judge, who then decide whether they should
be released or remanded to prison to await trial.
In Turkish police stations, torture is regularly used to extract confessions,
elicit information about illegal organizations, intimidate detainees into
becoming police informers or as unofficial punishment for presumed support
of illegal organizations. Turkey is a state party to the European Convention
on Human Rights, Article 3 of which states that “No one shall be subjected
to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Yet over the