Related topics

Parliament Deputy Wages Campaign Against Alleged Torture

January 13, 1986

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Ali Inan was 17 years old when police picked him up on an Istanbul street Sept. 11, 1980, the day before the military took over Turkey in a coup.

Seventeen days later his father, Bekir Inan, found his son’s body in the morgue of Hardarpasa military hospital. The autopsy report said he had died of cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a severe blow to the head. The medical examiner found contusions on 40 different parts of the body.

Ali Inan, a high school student, had been brought to the hospital from the police station where he had been questioned, hospital documents say.

Today his case is part of a campaign undertaken by Cuneyt Canver, a 33- year-old Social Democrat member of Parliament, and a small but increasingly vocal group of Turks who seek to eradicate torture in Turkey’s prisons and police stations.

As the result of demands by Ali Inan’s father, six policemen who were present during the boy’s interrogation have been brought before an Istanbul criminal court on charges of causing death by torture.

The father recently went to Canver’s office to seek his help in speeding up the trial.

″We are all mortal,″ Bekir Inan said. ″It is not his death I mind so much as the inhuman way he died, without dignity, at the hand of officials who are supposed to protect us.″

″This has got to stop,″ Canver told a reporter present in the room. ″It can happen to anybody. It can happen to you.″

Another who has joined the campaign is Erbil Tusalp, correspondent for the leftist newspaper Cumhuriyet, who has written a book on human rights and specific cases of torture. His ″One Thousand Men″ made Turkey’s best-seller list in December.

Both military and civilian officials have denied the existence of systematic and widespread torture. However, they acknowledge ″individual incidents involving overzealous officials.″

President Kenan Evren, leader of the former military government, in a recent speech defended the government’s performance and contended that opposition parties always have used claims of torture to undermine the security policies of whichever government was in power.

But the allegations have caused problems for Turkey and its relations with other countries, especially in the European Common Market and among fellow NATO members. The European Council, for example, has frozen a $600 million aid package for Turkey.

Torture claims reached a peak in 1982, following a law-and-order campaign launched by the military to crush extreme leftist and rightist terrorist organizations that killed 5,000 people in the two years before the military takeover. Martial law authorities imprisoned 30,000 suspected terrorists and their alleged accomplices.

Canver said he has compiled a list of 113 suspicious deaths with information received from lawyers, relatives and court sources and has handed it over to the Interior Ministry for investigation.

On the list, covering the past five years, are alleged killings in prisons, suicides, and deaths by hunger strike. Claims of questionable deaths after the return to civilian rule number 18.

A majority of the cases involve police brutality in stations where suspects are brought for a preliminary questioning before indictment and trial. Confessions and other testimony thus obtained often are rejected during the trial by the defendants.

Official figures show that the number of such incidents is not negligible. Since 1980, 544 military and civilian personnel have been convicted of torture and sentenced to prison terms. The trials of 1,787 others continue, while charges against 2,317 have been found groundless.

At a recent news conference Premier Turgut Ozal expressed hope that as police become better educated and intelligence-gathering methods are modernized, brutal ways to obtain evidence and information will disappear. He also vowed that no torture claim will go uninvestigated.

In an effort to counter the torture allegations, the government now allows the inspection of prisons by several West European groups. Also a parliamentary commision has been set up to keep an eye on prison conditions.

But Canver and others in his Social Democrat Populist Party said the government is not doing enough to discourage torture.

In a recent speech to legislators, Canver maintained, ″Covert support is being provided for the torturers by treating torture claims lightly, by delaying investigations and prosecution inordinately.″

Update hourly