Lawyers protested against the arrest of lawyer Ümit Ulaş and a trainee lawyer, followed by maltreatment and exposure to violence in the Taksim police station on the European side of central Istanbul. The demonstrating attorneys demanded prosecution of the police officers that assaulted their colleagues.
The attorneys furthermore requested the Ministry of the Interior to initiate an administrative investigation into the police station's history of human rights violations.
Both lawyers were handcuffed, beaten and exposed to insults
At midday yesterday (9 December) the demonstrators marched to the Taksim police station with banners saying "Human dignity will win over torture" and shouting slogans like "Close down Taksim police station".
Spokesman Kemal Aytaç summarized the experiences of the 2 arrested lawyers in a press release as follows:
"When lawyer Ümit Ulaş was asked by the police to identify himself on the evening of 29 November, he asked the police officer to show his identity in return. Ulaş was told 'Don't be capricious' and arrested. He was handcuffed. He was harassed on the way to the police station and exposed to maltreatment and insults. He was prevented from contacting other lawyers. His request to obtain a health report from a hospital was not fulfilled. Ulaş was kept in custody until 4.00 am and then released without having done any procedures".
The other lawyer experienced the following:
"On the very same day, a trainee lawyer was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and arrested right in front of the police station. He was exposed to insults and curses and hit on his head with truncheons. Cold water was poured over him in the restroom of the police station and he was left there like that for hours. The trainee lawyer was threatened with torture in case he would file a criminal complaint and was released soaking wet at 4.30 am".
Aytaç pointed out that similar incidents have happened in the Taksim Police Station before and said that both lawyers filed a criminal complaint. He mused form where the police officers of this police station took their courage for such unlawful practices, saying that "It is understood that a powerful administration encourages the police officers".
Turning a blind eye to the police?
"On the other hand, the prosecutors turn a blind eye to these incidents since they do not investigate the complaint files sufficiently and efficiently, lacking courage and determination in the handling of the allegations. We are afraid they even approve of it indirectly".
Aytaç underlined that the assaults were attacks on the individuals' personal "right to defence".
Organizations supporting the protest: Contemporary Lawyers Group, Rule of Law Group, Contemporary Lawyers Union, First Principle Contemporary Lawyers Group, Contemporary Lawyers Association, Gaziosmanpaşa Regional Lawyers Association, Kartal Lawyers Association, Young Lawyers Union, Lawyers Platform against Commercialization, board members of the Istanbul Bar Association, and members of the Lawyers Association.
Among numerous other cases of torture and beating Nigerian refugee Festus Okey lost his life when he was in kept in custody in the Taksim Police Station. (BÇ/VK)