In a recent report by the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), it has been revealed that the number of individuals who filed complaints related to torture and ill-treatment in 2022 saw a significant 22% increase compared to the previous year. Shockingly, this surge in complaints spanned a wide age range, from the youngest victim at just 3 years old to the eldest at 76.
The Report Highlights a Disturbing Trend in Human Rights The report underscores a disconcerting trend in Turkey’s human rights landscape. Last year, a total of 1,201 individuals, either personally or on behalf of their loved ones, approached the foundation, seeking assistance due to torture or ill-treatment. This marks the second-highest number of applications in TİHV’s history, following a peak in applications seen in 2001. TİHV President Metin Bakkalcı emphasized the gravity of the situation, noting that their initial expectation for 2022 was 530 new applications, making the fact that over twice that number sought help due to torture a stark indicator of deteriorating human rights in the country.
Even Children Are Not Spared The report, as detailed by Sendika.org, reveals that out of the 1,201 applicants, 1,117 had personally endured torture or ill-treatment, while 84 were family members of victims who turned to TİHV for support. Shockingly, it was found that 1,079 of the victims had experienced these abuses within Turkey, with 38 individuals reporting incidents occurring outside of the country. Disturbingly, 756 individuals reported torture and ill-treatment that took place in 2022 alone, while others sought assistance for past incidents. The fact that the youngest victim was only 3 years old, while the oldest was 76, adds to the chilling nature of the findings.
Streets as Torture Grounds Among those who reached out to the foundation, 70.2% reported experiencing physical violence, 83.4% faced threats and verbal abuse, and 45.2% endured positional torture. Astonishingly, 497 individuals were subjected to cruel stress positions, often with their hands cuffed behind their backs. Shockingly, 43.5% of applicants reported experiencing sexual torture, with 3 individuals having been sexually assaulted, and 80 individuals subjected to physical sexual harassment. Additionally, the report highlighted an alarming increase in pressure and restrictions on peaceful gatherings and demonstrations.
Detention Centers as Sites of Abuse Alarming data reveals that during detention, one out of every two individuals (50.7%) who claimed to have experienced torture faced further abuse within police stations. Specifically, 131 individuals reported torture and ill-treatment at Istanbul Police Department, with 103 individuals reporting similar incidents at Van Police Department. Astonishingly, not only police stations but also gendarmerie command posts and detention vehicles continued to be hotspots for torture and ill-treatment. Disturbingly, 30.7% of those who endured torture during detention reported suffering abuse from law enforcement officers inside vehicles.
The report also brought to light an ongoing increase in applications to TİHV centers in Diyarbakır, Van, and Cizre. This troubling trend, the report suggests, must be considered in conjunction with the ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in these regions. Furthermore, the report revealed that a significant 68.8% of those seeking assistance from TİHV due to torture and ill-treatment hailed from the Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia regions.
The report also documented rights violations during medical examinations conducted during detention. A majority of those who approached TİHV for help recounted instances where law enforcement officers were present during medical examinations and their complaints went unheard during the detention process.