A report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (THİV) reveals 17 people were tortured and ill-treated, and one person died at the hands of Turkish security forces following the recent earthquakes that hit 11 cities in Turkey. The report was prepared by the THİV Documentation Centre by examining written and visual media, including statements and reports by professional organisations and other human rights groups.
The report highlights that the events “worryingly reveal that the rights perspective has been completely abandoned in order to render the truth invisible” about the government’s poor response in the aftermath of the twin earthquakes on 6 February. It mentions that at least one person died in detention as a result of torture and ill-treatment, and three prisoners died due to the intervention of law enforcement officers in prisons.
Moreover, 17 people were subjected to torture and ill-treatment in nine separate incidents, leading to the death of one person. The report also highlights that 82 out of 1,902 unaccompanied children could not be identified. Law enforcement officers and civilians intervened with 22 journalists who were covering news from the earthquake zone. One journalist was injured, and four journalists were detained, while two journalists were arrested for their social media posts.
Additionally, 575 other people were prosecuted for their social media posts, out of which 141 people were detained, and 27 were arrested. The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) fined Halk TV, Tele 1, and FOX TV channels for their broadcasts on the earthquakes and search and rescue operations.
Some 246 people who protested against the decision to continue education at universities remotely after the earthquake were detained under torture and ill-treatment. Citizens, civil society organisations, political parties and municipalities were prevented from collecting aid for earthquake victims in at least 20 cases. Sixteen people were detained, six people were arbitrarily detained, one person was subjected to physical violence, and one person was fined.
According to the report, aid collection activities were also targeted in several incidents. One person was injured in an armed attack against an aid collection activity. In at least seven cases, aid materials were seized by AFAD, district governorship, and law enforcement officers. One hundred trucks sent by the Future Party (Gelecek Partisi), 1,500 tents collected by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), eight trucks and two lorries of aid materials, 30 containers, and 120 generators were seized.
The THİV calls on the Turkish authorities to investigate the allegations of torture and ill-treatment, to release those who were detained arbitrarily, and to respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly.