Opposition MP documents over 27,000 cases of ‘torture and ill-treatment’ in Turkey since 2002

Complaints of torture and ill-treatment of those in custody have grown significantly in Turkey during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 18-year term in power, according to a new report.

A total of 27,493 people alleged they were subjected to abuse by the police or gendarmerie in Turkey between 2002 and 2020, said opposition MP and prominent human rights lawyer Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who authored the report.

Tanrıkulu, an MP for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Inquiry Committee, also found that 86 people had died in custody or as a result of torture and excessive force by law enforcement agencies.

The findings were captured in ‘Report on Torture and Ill-Treatment under AKP Governments in the Years 2002-2020’, [‘2002-2020 Yılları AKP Hükümetleri İşkence ve Kötü Muamele Raporu], which was released on 21 January 2021.

The damning report notes that there were 988 documented incidents and allegations of torture and mistreatment in 2002, when the AKP first came to power.

Lawyer and CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu

By 2015 this had increased to 5,671 recorded complaints of abuse and excessive force. The figure had dropped back to 3,534 cases for 2020.

The same report also raises concerns of enforced disappearances. These were common in Turkey in the 1990s and have seemingly become more widespread again since the coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July 2016.

Of the people reported missing in the post-coup era of 2016 to 2020, 24 people were subsequently found, each one having endured intense torture, the report states.

One of the latest cases of enforced disappearance is that of Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit. A former civil servant, Küçüközyiğit was dismissed by the government in the wake of the aborted coup for allegedly having links to the banned terror group FETO, which he denies.

Küçüközyiğit’s daughter Nursena made a series of tweets about her missing father on 3 January of this year, including these three messages:

“My father, Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit , is a trilingual Legal Counsel working for the Government with a master’s degree from Germany. HüseyinGalip Nerede

“He was expelled with a decree, he was tried and sentenced. He was released after the verdict, and his case is still in the higher court HüseyinGalip Nerede

“He has been missing since 15.40 pm on December 29. We had planned to meet on the next day to spend Christmas together in Izmit… And we’re still waiting. He lived in Ankara, harmless, trying out different jobs he could find to make a living. HüseyinGalip Nerede

A month on from his disappearance, there is still no news about the whereabouts of Mr Küçüközyiğit, his daughter tweeted on 29 January.

Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, missing since 29 Dec. 2020, with his daughter Nursena