Five Italian internationalists, who were part of a European delegation that recently travelled to Turkey’s Kurdish-majority regions, issued a press release on Wednesday alleging ill-treatment by the Turkish authorities during their detention.
Turkish police arrested 15 members of the delegation during a protest against recent Turkish airstrikes on Syria’s Kurdish-held northern and eastern regions. They were held in police custody for three days before being deported back to their home countries on 14 October.
During the press statement, Lucia, one of the young women who participated in the delegation, marvelled at the strength of the Kurdish society they encountered, saying, “We saw the strength of a people that never stops building democratic structures even when facing a state that continuously seeks to destroy them. They are unstoppable.” Another delegate condemned the ongoing Turkish aggression on North and East Syria.
The delegates described their ordeal in Turkish detention centres, recounting the physical and psychological abuse they endured. One delegate revealed how authorities posed as psychologists during interrogations while secretly gathering information. She said, “They used different kinds of violence against us, physical and psychological. They pretended to assess our mental health, but it was an interrogation to extract information from us.”
The delegates also spoke about the brutality they witnessed, with one woman noting, “The worst thing was seeing our friends being abused and beaten during body searches or while they were alone in the bathroom.” Despite the efforts of Turkish authorities to avoid leaving visible marks, they all bore bruises and scratches on their bodies.
“This is just a fraction of what Kurds, journalists and political activists face on a daily basis in Turkey,” they emphasised.
Journalists from several Italian newspapers, including ANSA, Corriere della Sera, L’Espresso, and Il Manifesto, were present in the press statement, along with a lawyer.
In an interview following the press statement, the lawyer argued that the delegation’s detention in Turkey underscored a significant infringement on freedom of speech, particularly within the framework of what should be a legitimate and ordinary occurrence in a democratic society.
The lawyer further illuminated the distressing conditions that transpired after the arrests, stating that the affected individuals were swiftly relocated across the country, subsequently losing contact with their legal representatives, who were their primary source of information and protection.
The young activists expressed their determination to continue their work until “the violence and fascism of the Turkish state” became common knowledge among the Italian population.