A human rights organisation in Turkey is suing the authorities over their rough treatment of Semra Güzel, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Diyarbakır, during her arrest last Friday, Mezopotamya news agency reported.
Pro-government journalists were present and given full access to film the MP being roughly manhandled by the police, who cuffed her hands behind her back, grabbed handfuls of her hair and forced her head down as they frog-marched her away.
The HDP said the arrest was stage-managed by Turkey’s Interior Ministry, whose aim was to produce undignified images of the Kurdish MP supposedly cowed into submission.
The Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Diyarbakır Branch believes the arrest and the later rough treatment of Güzel amounts to a form of torture, with abuse of power, insulting behaviour and humiliation by the police and authorities.
“Torture – which is considered a crime against humanity and prohibited in all circumstances by domestic and international law – has been perpetrated in front of the cameras against a woman who is still an MP and has worked for many years in the field of women’s rights,” the İHD said in its criminal complaint against public officials involved in Güzel’s arrest.
The MP told Mezopotamya in a previous interview via her lawyers that her mistreatment continued after the cameras were switched off, when she was taken for a health check as part of arrest procedures.
“Although I told the doctor that there were injuries on my wrists, neck and scalp, the doctor did not perform an examination. As a physician, I reminded him of the Istanbul Protocol,” said Güzel, referring to international guidelines on documenting signs of torture adopted by the United Nations in 1999. “He told me the convention was not valid there.”
Güzel called on the local chamber of medicine to investigate the doctor in question.
Veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk said the ill-treatment of Semra Güzel was a sign of the government’s hostility towards the Kurdish people as a whole.
“It was very disturbing for everyone, especially when they tried to force Semra Güzel’s head down during her arrest, to try to make it look as if she has committed a crime, felt remorse, or was surrendering to the state,” said Türk.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has accused Semra Güzel of being a member of a terrorist organisation and financing terrorism.
The allegations came to the fore after a photograph surfaced earlier this year of Güzel with a fighter from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The HDP explained that the photograph was taken in 2014, during AKP-led talks with the PKK that continued until mid-2015, and Güzel says her visit occurred at a time when civilians were allowed by the state to visit their relatives and loved ones as part of the peace process.
Speaking after her arrest last weekend, Güzel said the photograph was merely a pretext used by the state to target her and create the conditions for a wider pretext to shut down the HDP, which commands substantial support among Turks as well as Kurds and won 67 seats with more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2018 general election.
“By adding these images to the party closure case, they tried to produce futile justifications in order to close the party in their own way,” added Güzel.
But the Kurdish MP said she had no choice but to resist the authorities’ attempts to cow her, because she was “a representative of the Kurdish people and a woman”.
“We will continue to struggle until peace is established. The Kurdish people will not bow down,” she said. “I would also like to make a call to bar associations, human rights associations, women’s institutions, chambers of medicine: show your anger, and keep tabs on this unlawfulness.”