Jun 29 2019

Former diplomat speaks out over torture of Turkish foreign ministry staff

A former Turkish diplomat who witnessed the torture and sexual abuse of fellow former Foreign Ministry staff while in custody has revealed details of the tortuous ordeal to Ahval on condition of anonymity.

Turkish authorities on May 20 issued arrest warrants for 249 foreign ministry staff over alleged exam cheating, an act the Turkish government links to Gülen movement, which Ankara accuses of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt. A total of 78 suspects were detained in police operations following the arrest warrants, according to reports. 

The witness, who was dismissed from the Foreign Ministry after the failed putsch, explained the torture as something one would “only witness in movies.’’

After the seeing the state of two detainees the morning after a night of what prison officials referred to as interrogation, Ahval's source along with another foreign ministry staffer questioned what had happened.

The pair said that they had been stripped and forced into the foetal position by their interrogators, who insulted them and threatened to penetrate them anally with police batons if they refused to talk.

"Every morning, doctors came for a medical check, but the friends were so scared that they couldn't say anything to the doctor, and the torturers were so professional that they hit body parts that do not leave bruises. The rape – for now – remained as an attempt,"one detainee said.

"They applied lubricant to my rectal region and began to drag the baton around the area,’’ the Ahval source quoted one victim as saying. "If this baton goes in and out a few times, you’ll die here,’’ the interrogators told the victim.

A deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a well-known human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was the first person to draw attention to the torture.

A subsequent investigation by the Ankara Bar association confirmed that the detainees held at the Ankara Police Department’s financial crimes department had faced heavy torture, including sexual abuse.  

The detainees were subject to psychological and physical abuse in an interrogation process that the police called "interviews", the former diplomat said, noting that for four full days following their detention, the police took no testimonies.

The diplomats were subjected to threats and insults throughout multiple rounds of these "interviews", during which they were pressured to sign confessions, he said.

Some analysts saw the detentions as a message to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who served as foreign minister from 2009 to 2014 when many of the purged diplomats were hired, and has signalled his interest in creating a new political party within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

It was Gergerlioğlu's torture claims that struck fear in the interrogators, the former diplomat noted, and the number of the tortured was limited to five thanks to his efforts.

"I was released by the court that I was taken to, but I couldn't escape the effects of the events I witnessed," the diplomat said, "and I leave what my friends, who were exposed to torture, went through to your imagination," he added.