Yahya Karabaş, a villager from the Kurdish southeast of Turkey was detained for four days and subjected to torture by Turkish soldiers after being detained from his village on 31 March.
Soldiers raided a number of houses in the village of Timok (Gömüşörgü) in Batman’s Kozluk district, beating 15 people and taking them into custody.
Ten of the 15 were released on the same day after giving statements at the Gömüşörgü Gendarme Station.
Yahya Karabaş, Yakup Karabaş, Şaban Cengiz, Fırat Baran and Saddullah Karabaş were referred to the prosecution on 3 April. Saddullah Karabaş was remanded in custody on allegations of membership of an illegal organisation, but the remaining four were released on bail.
“Around 5 a.m., the village mukhtar (administrative head) knocked on my door and said that soldiers were asking for me. I got dressed and came out. We walked about 600 metres and came to a military vehicle standing at the back of the village. Without asking any questions, some military officers in plain clothes got out of this vehicle and started attacking me.” Yahya Karabaş told the Mezopotamya Agency.
“Then someone I didn’t see put a sack over my head from behind. They put me in the car and took me away. I didn’t know where they were taking me. They drove me around for about two hours. I was verbally abused by the people in the car throughout. They took me out of the car, but I didn’t know where I was because my eyes were covered. But I could tell by the sounds of nature that I was in a forest. After getting me out of the car, they started dunking my head in and out of water.”
‘We’ll kill you here and no one will know’
The villager was asked where ‘the Kurdish fighters’ were, and when he said he did not know, the torture sessions continued.
They put a gun against my head and said, “‘We’ll kill you here. No one will know,’ and they kept on torturing me,” said Karabaş, who has now lodged a criminal complaint and applied to the Human Rights Association (IHD), an NGO based in Turkey.
The soldiers also took him to the hospital, but a plainclothed officer intervened with the doctor, preventing him from issuing a medical report detailing the torture.
When a video of Karabaş with his eyes bloodshot from the beatings was published in social media, it caused a public outrage.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs went to the village to talk with the villagers. However they were prevented from doing so as access to the village had been prohibited for seven days.
Reacting to the situation, HDP Women’s Assembly spokeswoman Ayşe Acar Başaran said the reason for the access being restricted was to cover up the torture. Başaran talked with the soldiers who were waiting at the entrance of the village:
“Some villagers have been tortured here for several days. We want to talk to them. We want to contact them because we are concerned for their safety. This seven-day access ban is unlawful. Anyone who is complicit in this lawlessness will be held accountable. Both those who gave this order and those who tortured the villagers will be held accountable. This ban is itself an indicator of torture,” she said.