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Turkey Coup Aftermath: NGOs Say 62 Schoolchildren Arrested, Prisoners Raped, Starved

Demonstrators hold a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Taksim Square in Istanbul on July 24, 2016
Washington, D.C.

Schoolchildren are being detained for alleged acts of treason and prisoners “are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape” in the wake of the failed military coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to lawyers and a human rights organization.

Moreover, the Erdogan government, also in response to the July 15 coup attempt, has reportedly issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists as part of a purge that appears to be based on political affiliation.

Critics have accused the Turkish leader of using the abortive coup to execute an indiscriminate crackdown on dissent.

Human rights group Amnesty International reports:

Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape…

Detainees are being arbitrarily held, including in informal places of detention. They have been denied access to lawyers and family members and have not been properly informed of the charges against them, undermining their right to a fair trial.

Schoolchildren, between 14 and 17 years old, can be found among the detainees.

The Sun reports:

A total of 62 students at Kuleli Military school, the oldest such establishment in Istanbul, were collared by Turkish authorities.

Before the coup attempt last week, the pupils, aged between 14 and 17, were made to dress up in camouflage and were handed guns with empty magazines, according to their lawyers.

The children have been taken to prison and not allowed to speak to their parents as they were accused of treason against the Turkish State…

The incarcerated kids families and lawyers fear their sons could be denied a fair trial due to mass purges in Turkey’s judiciary and anti coup protesters hunger for vengeance.

Amnesty International notes that more than 10,000 people have been detained following the failed coup attempt.

The organization’s Europe director John Dalhuisen declared:

Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention.

It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held…

Despite chilling images and videos of torture that have been widely broadcast across the country, the government has remained conspicuously silent on the abuse. Failing to condemn ill-treatment or torture in these circumstances is tantamount to condoning it.

Erdogan and his supporters in parliament have imposed a three-month state of emergency that reportedly started Friday, as U.S. President Barack Obama warned the Erdogan government against “overreaction.”

The state of emergency has allowed Erdogan to prolong detention times from four to a maximum of 30 days and issue decrees to tighten his grip on Turkey.

Amnesty International learned about the conditions prisoners were being held in by the Erdogan government from lawyers, doctors and a person on duty in a detention facility.

It reports:

The organization heard multiple reports of detainees being held in unofficial locations such as sports centers and a [horse] stable…

Two lawyers in Ankara working on behalf of detainees told Amnesty International that detainees said they witnessed senior military officers in detention being raped with a truncheon or finger by police officers…

[One] interviewee heard one police doctor on duty say: ‘Let him die. We will say he came to us dead.’

At least 300 of the detainees showed signs of having been beaten. Some detainees had visible bruises, cuts, or broken bones. Around 40 were so badly injured they could not walk. Two were unable to stand. One woman who was also detained in a separate facility there had bruising on her face and torso…

Higher-ranking military officers were reportedly treated the worst. The coup attempt was led by segments of the Turkish military, which considers itself the guardian of the country’s secular constitution.

Amnesty International condemned the treatment of prisoners and journalists in the wake of the coup attempt.

The human rights group notes:

Amnesty International also learned that the [Turkish] authorities arbitrarily blocked access to news websites in the days following the coup attempt as well as revoking the licenses of other media houses. Dozens of individual journalists have also had their press cards cancelled.


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