A former commander of the Turkish Special Forces, nominated for a UN post as a senior security officer, revealed in a petition to the Constitutional Court of Turkey the details of brutal torture and abuse he was subjected to at the Ankara Police Department following his detention on July 16, 2016.
Col. Murat Korkmaz, the 45-year-old commander of the 26th battalion of the Turkish Special Forces (aka the Maroon Berets) and a highly decorated officer, was selected to serve as a military attaché in Macedonia for the upcoming period in 2017 and 2018. His commanders also recommended him for the UN post of senior security coordination officer given his Ph.D. and valuable field experience in Turkey and abroad in special operations. However, his brilliant career was abruptly disrupted when he was lured into a false flag coup attempt in 2016 under the pretense of securing military headquarters against a terrorist attack.
Murat Korkmaz’s petition to the Constitutional Court that detailed torture and ill-treatment in a detention center in Turkey:Murat_Korkmaz_application_torture_complaint
Korkmaz’s account bears characteristics of widespread and systematic torture practices engaged in by Turkish police following a coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016, which marks the beginning of an era in which such infamous practices as torture, enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention made an ominous comeback.
“On the night of July 15 around 00:30 a.m. I went to the headquarters of the General Staff with men under my command on the instruction of my superior, Col. Fırat Alakuş, the deputy brigade commander of the Special Forces,” he said in his complaint filed with the court. The colonel was assigned to secure the command post against a possible terrorist attack on General Staff headquarters based on intelligence conveyed by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). He went there with his men, cleared the police checkpoint and positioned his men to secure the headquarters and the perimeter.
When he realized he had been set up, Korkmaz surrendered himself and all the weapons and military equipment in his possession at 1:22 p.m. a day after the failed coup which, some claim, was a false flag operation aimed at entrenching Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s clout over the society and state by instilling fear in the hearts of dissidents and eliminating potential powerhouses such as the military in his bid for authoritarian rule.
Medical report that recorded some of the marks of torture on Murat Korkmaz:Murat_Korkmaz_medical_report
Declaring a state of emergency the Erdoğan government indeed began to rule the country by emergency decree not subject to judicial or parliamentary scrutiny whereby it introduced sweeping measures restructuring the state and society in a broad range of fields such as national defense, domestic security, state personnel, economy and administrative structure along with carrying out a massive purge of civil servants and the dissolution of private entities.
Handcuffed from behind, Korkmaz was detained by the counterterrorism unit of the Ankara Police Department under a shower of insults and verbal abuse. He and his men was then taken to an old municipal shuttle bus. They placed him on the window side of the bus undefended and in his military uniform, thereby exposing him to the verbal and physical attacks of an angry mob waiting outside.
The bus deliberately moved at a very slow speed through the mob, which was carrying clubs, stones and other objects with which they smashed the windows. Their journey to the Ankara Police Department continued through backstreets full of similar mobs. The attacks were so intense that the bus was heavily damaged. At a certain point, the police on the bus had to intervene because they also were getting injured in the attacks. “Stop throwing things, we’re getting hurt, too. Leave the rest to us. We have nice surprises for them,” the police warned the mobs.
“There were no parts unharmed on our bodies when we [Korkmaz and his men] left the bus,” Col. Korkmaz said. Handcuffed from behind and covered in blood from head to toe, a new spree of beating started while they were getting off the bus.
Upon his arrival at the detention facility of Ankara Police Department’s Foreigners’ Unit, he was led through a “lynch corridor” that started from the door of the bus and continued to the detention center. According to his statement, officers on both sides of the human corridor tried to lynch him by kicking, punching and hitting him with bats. The last thing he remembered was a kick in the face that broke his teeth and led to blood gushing out of his mouth before passing out.
At 7:30 p.m. he woke up at Ankara Gazi Mustafa Kemal Hospital in bandages, with IV drips in both arms and a neck brace. When he asked the doctor what had happened to him, he was told his pulse was weak and irregular due to severe blows he had sustained and that he had been diagnosed with “conversion disorder.”
Murat Korkmaz was nominated for a UN security post by the General Staff. His application forms were considered evidence of a crime in sham coup trials:Murat_KorkmazUN_post
The counterterrorism police entered the room after learning Korkmaz had regained his consciousness. Despite the doctor’s warning that he had to stay in the hospital for at least a day, they removed him from the bed, telling the doctor: “Don’t worry, Doc, we’ve prepared a nice observation ward for him. We will take care of him.” His medical files were handed over to the police officers.
Turkish authorities fabricated the medical records detailing his hospitalization to cover up the abuse he had endured, he claims. “The medical records do not reflect the real reason I was hospitalized. Nor do they contain the medical examinations I had gone through. Even the admittance date was forged,” the colonel said in his complaint.
He was brought back to the detention facility of the Ankara Police Department’s Foreigners’ Unit. He recounts seeing blood dripping down the walls and pooling on the ground in the corridor together with pieces of military uniforms drenched in blood. He nervously asked where he was being taken and was told he was “going to heaven.” He remembers seeing people handcuffed from behind lying on the ground in their underwear who were constantly being kicked and cursed. Half-conscious, he was thrown into a cell in his underwear. He stayed in the cell for four days under constant verbal abuse and physical attacks. He was only given a small bottle of water, a small piece of bread and cheese every day.
On July 18, 2016 he testified half-naked in only his underwear in the presence of a female lawyer sent by the Ankara Bar Association. Afterward, he was taken to the Judicial Medical Examination Board in the police department gym once again under a deluge of verbal abuse and physical attacks. He remembers seeing detainees in the gym being tortured by the police. In such an atmosphere he was medically examined in the presence of two police officers who ordered the doctor examining him to write a “no injuries observed” report when the doctor said he had to be referred to a hospital.
“Complaints of injuries on the jaw and nose. Claims not being able to open his jaw for the last three days. Sensitivity observed in his nasal bone. Medical examination by an oral and dental health specialist is recommended when available,” the medical report says. Under duress the doctor could only reflect the complaints of Korkmaz in the medical report, not being able to fully state what he had observed.
Col. Korkmaz filed a formal complaint with the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office on April 4, 2018 about the torture and inhuman treatment he had received from the police. Whether he has received an answer or authorities have taken any action on his complaint is unknown. It must, however, be noted that the chances are slim in today’s Turkey to get a torture claim investigated given that the authorities were given carte blanche by one of the emergency decree-laws that provided them with full legal immunity against complaints of this nature.
Korkmaz’s testimony is in line with the testimony of many other military personnel who were detained, tortured and mistreated in the aftermath of the coup attempt and confirms the bleak condition of the state of human rights in Turkey.
Nordic Monitor previously revealed the gruesome details of the brutal torture Col. Cemil Turhan was subjected to. He gave a statement to the visiting members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), a Council of Europe-affiliated body. However, the details were never made public because Turkey vetoed publication of the committee’s report.