12 September File on Torture
Because of new information on deaths under torture that increased after the military coup of 12 September 1980 the independent communication network BIA (Bianet) published reports from 1986 again. The DTFDemocratic Turkey Forum has made a summarized translation of them.
The article that appeared in the journal Nokta on 2 February 1986 deals with the confessions of torturer Sedat Caner. The police officer, aged 30 at the time, with the service number 63823 had approached the journal. He confessed to have participated in the torture of some 200 people. After a female detainee had died under torture he had been charged and convicted. He actually did not want to talk about it. Yet, his testimony in court had not been correct. There he had said that all three defendants were innocent, whereas the true responsible person for the torture related death of Cennet Değirmenci had been the police officer Hüseyin Gülersönmez. Only in the course of the conversation more details emerged.
Death under torture of Cennet Değirmenci
Cennet Değirmenci (27) was detained on 22 May 1982 by the police officers Hüseyin Gülersönmez, Mustafa Yazıcı and Sedat Caner from the political police at Kahramanmaraş Police HQ. These three officers had formed a "mobile interrogation team". Sedat Caner told Nokta:
- "Cennet Değirmenci had been shown to us as a courier of the Revolutionary People's Union (Devrimci Halkın Birliği). We detained her in a flat of the organization in Gaziantep and took her to the interrogation centre there. There was everything we needed for an interrogation. The chief of our team, Hüseyin Gülersönmez wanted that Mustafa Yazıcı and I went to the flat again to wait for potential visitors. He stayed behind with the woman. When we went Cennet Değirmenci had been undressed, had her hands tied behind her back and was about to be suspended. We came back in the morning at half past three. Cennet Değirmenci lay on the grounds and had to be artificially ventilated. We took her to the car, but instead of going to a hospital I was told to drive to Maraş. Close to the town Narlı she died."
- "We informed our superiors. We should take her to a hospital and pretend that she died during transport. We took her to the morgue. The next day at 10am an autopsy was carried out. The prosecutor was new. Because he and the physician did not know each other the cause of death was recorded as "use of force". We agreed to show the death as being caused by a fall during an attempt to escape. To that effect a second autopsy was done at 11pm and the first report was destroyed. According the to the second autopsy the death was "attributable to a fall".
The court case
Because of the second autopsy the civilian prosecutor first sent the case to a military prosecutor and he decided against prosecution. Nevertheless the case got to Ankara and from there directives were issued to open a case at Adana Military Court (responsible for the provinces Adana, Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Adıyaman, Hatay and İçel). in May 1983 Hüseyin Gülersönmez, Mustafa Yazıcı and Sedat Caner were charged with ill-treatment and causing the death of a prisoner. Their argument that the death had been caused by a fall was refuted by a report of the forensics that the internal bleeding could not have been caused by a fall. In addition, there was a witness, Mustafa Karakaya, who had seen when the woman had been taken out of her house. In February the court concluded that the police officers had caused the death, even though the person responsible could not be clearly identified, and sentenced the police officers to 10 years' imprisonment. Because of their respectable past and other mitigating circumstances the sentences were reduced to four years and two months' imprisonment. During this hearing the defendants were not present and, when the Court of Cassation confirmed the sentences they disappeared completely from the scene.
Other torture victims: Hamit Kapan, Garbis Altınoğlu
The confession of the torturer Sedat Caner continued in the journal Nokta of 9 February 1996. Sedat Caner first reported how a young girl from İskenderun was tortured in order to reveal the whereabouts of her fiancé Ali A.
Sedat Caner also knew of details of torture on Hamit Kapan. He was held for 200 days and according to Caner he was tortured for 200 days.
- "We had no success with him so that an interrogation team came from Ankara. We were three teams and worked in shifts of 8 hours. Hamit Kapan was not allowed to sleep. That continued for about six months. For nine days he was held in a septic tank. After that he had wounds big as a fist. He had resisted torture but when he was dosing and everybody was busy with himself the chief of the team in Ankara asked a question and he started to talk. Hamit Kapan, who according to Sedat Caner was talking in his sleep delivered a testimony of some 30 pages in which he agreed inter alias to be responsible for the killing of the teacher Mustafa Yüzbaşıoğlu in Kahramanmaraş. In court he said that he had known the teacher well and that he had been detained with him before for two days.
Afterwards Sedat Caner spoke of an Alevite girl that went to school in Pazarcık. One of them had raped her with a truncheon. According to Caner there had not been acts of direct rape, but the threat of rape had been a "successful" method. This had been the case with a man from earlier times, who had not even "confessed" his name. But when they stripped his wife naked in this present and threatened that many men would go over her he started "to talk".
Sedat Caner confessed that he applied electric shocks to the sister of a wanted man. That was in the College of Education in Kahramanmaraş where they did not have the opportunity of hanging up people. According to Caner men, too, had been raped with truncheons or Coca Cola bottles. In the case of a man from Elbistan he had done that together with an interrogator from Ankara. They had pushed the man so heavy on the bottle that half of it was filled with blood.
Sedat Caner also remembered Garbis Altınoğlu. In order to destroy his self respect they had put a ring in his nose, played tambourine and let him dance like a bear. After that he had been "cracked", but nonetheless he had not talked. Garbis Altınoğlu had been the first to be put into the "turtle cage". This cage had been so small that only one person on his kneels could be placed in it, unable to move. During the time the joints calcified. After one week Garbis Altınoğlu could only walk bended forward. In court Garbis Altınoğlu said:
- "During the 70 days that I was interrogated in Maraş I was tortured with deprivation of sleep, water and food, foot-whipping, crucifixion and combinations of these methods. For 20 days I got nothing to eat. During the first five days they did not allow me to sleep. When I was not tortured I was chained to the wall with my hands."
Bianet also re-published the article in Nokta of 9 February 1986 on reactions to the confessions of Sedat Caner. Before the publications in Nokta Sedat Caner had approached the Bar Association of Turkey on 31 January and asked the chairman Teoman Evren for legal aid, because he wanted to surrender. After a press conference at the Bar Association Sedat Caner had been accused by the Prime Minister and other officials with various allegations. He said about them:
- "I am not a member of Dev-Yol or any other illegal organization. Before I became police officer I was a member of the youth branch of the Justice Party in Bakırköy. I did not belong to the personal security of the Justice Minister, but I was responsible for the security in the Ministry of Justice."
After the publication Prime Minister Turgut Özal had stated:
- "The confessions are ill intended. The police officer was dismissed from duty in November 1983 according to Law 1402. The dismissal reportedly was ordered because he had contacts to left-wing organizations. He has also been convicted for ill-treatment."
Interior Minister Yıldırım Akbulut did not only call Sedat Caner a member of Dev-Yol, but mentally disturbed without producing any evidence.
At the time Uğur Mumcu, journalist with the daily Cumhuriyet presented a decision of the disciplinary board of the police in Ankara, dated 29 September 1983 that said that the police officer had had the duty to observe civil servants with ideological activities and, therefore, he had been placed under suspicion. There was no need for punishment. Mumcu further found out that Sedat Caner had been police officer in Anafartalar (Ankara) at the time of his conviction in February 1984.
Another objection to the revelations of Sedat Caner was his remark that he had heard that Şükrü Bağ had died under torture. Hürriyet found him alive. He was not dead, but reported of 20 days under constant electric shocks.
Death under torture of Mehmet Ceren
Another article in Bianet of 5 May 2011 is the reproduction of an article in the journal Tempo of 4 December 1988. The article was published under the title "An autopsy has to be carried out". Mehmet Ceren had heard that he was wanted and had surrendered in Adana. Two weeks later his corpse came to Tatlar village, in Afşin district (Kahramanmaraş). The journal relied on relatives but also on remarks of the police officer Sedat Caner. The deputy commander of martial law that had been announced at the time, Yusuf Haznedaroğlu had also been interviewed. This is the (shortened) story:
Mehmet Ceren (23) had spent his last evening on 5 October 1981 with his uncle in the village. He decided to surrender so that his relatives would not be bothered any more with questions about him. He hoped to be interrogated in Adana, because "in Maraş I won't survive for 48 hours", he told his father and his uncle. On 22 October there were knocks at the door of father Vahap Ceren. The watchman of the village took him to a young officer. He delivered the news about the death and took the father with him to Afşin.
In 1984 the police officer Sedat Caner had told the journal Nokta about the death of Mehmet Ceren: "They had hung Mehmet Ceren at the butcher's hook (kasap askısı). They applied electric shocks via his penis. When they took him from the hook his feet came loose and he fell with his neck on the edge of a tyre on the ground. His neck broke. The then deputy commander of martial law, Yusuf Haznedaroğlu, Major Nevzat Bekaroğlu, the chief of the political police, Necdet Kondolot, chief commissioner Hüseyin Gülersönmez and the police officer Bilge Akdoğa know of this." General Yusuf Haznedaroğlu on the other hand maintained that the person wanted as a member of "THKP-C Dev-Savaş" Mehmet Ceren had been detained and later was taken for interrogation from Adana Miiltary Prison to Kahramanmaraş. He had died in hospital, before he could be interrogated.
The death certificate was issued by Erdem Gürünlü, at the time physician for the health insurance (sağlık ve sosyal yardım müdürlüğü). He had been called by the command of martial law. The individual concerned had had a fever and he had gasped. He had ordered his transfer to hospital and he had accompanied him in the ambulance. He had died on the way. In the death certificate (autopsy) the physician certified that no traces of force could be seen. The death had been due to faults in the lungs. These had affected the heart and the sudden failure of the heart had caused the death.
Father Vahap Ceren and the officer reached the command of martial law after a journey of 35 kilometres. The corpse was brought to the village by two cars with soldiers, but neither the father nor any other person were allowed to have a look at the corpse.. The father is convinced that the corpse was not shown to them in order that they did not see the wounds of torture.
Mehmet Ceren, born 1957, was one of five children, but the only son to study. The village was predominantly right-wing, but he was accepted as a left-winger. The villager Mehmet Arın, who had been a member of the Nationalist Movement Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi) stated that everyone in the village knew that Mehmet Ceren had died under torture, but they did not know why. Doğan Bozkurt, who had been the mayor of Afşin before September, 12 said that Mehmet Ceren, Fehmi Özarslan and a teacher from Tunceli had been killed in his town,
It lasted five years, before Vahap Ceren could file an official complaint. After 5.5 months the prosecutor in Kahramanmaraş stopped the investigation. The reason were the testimonies of Yusuf Haznedaroğlu, Necdet Kondolot and Bilge Akdoğan, who all said that they did not know of any torture. The autopsy that had not detected any traces of torture was another element. Sedat Caner said that he had been asked about the incident repeatedly, when he was in prison and each time he had said that Mehmet Ceren died under torture. Therefore, a court case was opened against him for giving false testimony. This case ended in acquittal in his absence.
In the daily Radikal of 20 June 2011 Ismail Saymaz reported that the prosecutor in Afsin had started an investigation.
Amnesty International issued several reports on the subject at the time
- 1987 Reports of Amnesty International (scans that include "File on Torture" with drawings from the journal Nokta
- 1989 Communication with the authorities
- 1989 List of Deaths in Custody
- 2009 Background to Deaths in Custody in Turkey 1980-2000
- ↑ Details on this organization can be found in a private Wiki in German
- ↑ This means the tools for torture such as foot whipping, electro shocks, various forms of hanging, the editors
- ↑ The so called Palestinian hanger, DTF
- ↑ See the English Wikipedia
- ↑ See the English Wikipedia
- ↑ In the list of Amnesty International the death of Mehmet Ceren carries the remarks: "The official answer of 2 March 1989 related the cause of death as pneumonia. The father Vahip Ceren alleged that death was the result of torture.
- ↑ This organization is said to be a sub-group of TKHP/C (see http://ob.nubati.net/wiki/THKP-C). According to various sources it was founded in 1977 and was mainly active in the region of Kahramanmaraş (see for instance http://www.bluemirrow.com/archive/index.php/t-6556.html or http://www.broadleft.org/tr_left_part_hist_diag.pdf
- ↑ This should be Ali Ekber Yürek, DTF.