06/21/2024, 12.03
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Ankara: Use of torture against Kurds and homosexuals on the rise

This is according to a study covering 2023 published by activists of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. Last year 781 people invoked help and protection after suffering violence. Six people died in prison or in custody because of the beatings they suffered. Against the Kurds a "disproportionate" use of force. 

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Kurds, people of LGBT+ sexual orientation, and other minority members all united by one thing in common: they are victims of an "increasing use of torture" implemented by Turkish authorities in the recent past.

This was revealed in a report published these days by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (Tihv/Hrft), according to which in 2023 at least 739 people-but the figures may be underestimated-in Ankara, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, İzmir, Van, and Cizre were personally subjected to torture or mistreatment. To these are added 42 more cases of people who reported abuse on behalf of relatives, family members or friends.

The study for 2023, based on complaints collected in Tihv/Hrft-affiliated treatment and rehabilitation centers, reveals a "significant" number of cases of torture, serious abuse and mistreatment. Since its establishment in 1990, the foundation has received a total of 21,894 requests for support, including 7,548 since 2014.

In the past year alone, 781 people have invoked help and protection after suffering violence: specifically, 731 cases occurred within national borders and eight were reported from abroad, by agents or personalities linked to Turkey.

The report indicates that 72.2 percent of the incidents reported in 2023 occurred within the year, with the remaining cases occurring in previous years of which 90 percent occurred within the last six years. In addition, also in the past year at least six people died in prison or in custody as a result of torture. 

A significant proportion of the victims were women and members of the LGBTI+ community. Specifically, 240 identified themselves as women, 428 as men, and 63 as non-binary/queer.

The distribution of complaints among months showed a peak between June and July, correlating with increased police intervention during Pride Week events. The age of applicants ranged from 7 to 77, with nearly half of them between the ages of 19 and 35.

The report notes a disturbing increase in unofficial or secret detentions: 598 applicants reported being officially detained, while 133 reported being unofficially detained and unregistered.

This trend is linked to police interventions during public demonstrations and press statements and is described by experts as the "changing face of torture." The highest number of requests was recorded in Istanbul with 251 cases, followed by İzmir, with 172, and Van, with 161.

Despite the interruption of service for nearly four months due to the February 2023 earthquake, the Diyarbakır office received 125 applications. Cizre and Ankara received 40 and 32 applications.

The Istanbul Police Department was identified as the main place where incidents of torture were reported, followed by the Diyarbakır, Ankara and Van police departments where the Kurdish minority is in the crosshairs. Indeed, the report shows how this population - long in the crosshairs of authorities and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - is "disproportionately" affected by the use of torture.

Analysis of the birthplaces and mother tongues of applicants for assistance and protection indicates that those of Kurdish ethnicity are subject to higher rates of violations than other ethnic groups, a trend that continued in 2023.

Abuses and violations are also confirmed by a study by Amnesty International, which found that investigations, prosecutions, and unfounded convictions of human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians, and activists continued last year. In addition, anti-terrorism and disinformation regulations have been used repeatedly to curtail freedom of expression, just as there have been unjustified limits on freedom of peaceful assembly.

At the same time, "widespread" violence against women and girls persists, as does discriminatory and stigmatizing rhetoric against Lgbti, refugee and migrant people in the run-up to the presidential and legislative elections in May.

Victims of human rights violations committed by state officials continued to suffer the effects of the culture of impunity, as well as serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.

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