Torturers of Sept. 12 military coup made inmate believe he lived in grave


TODAY’S ZAMAN, ?STANBUL
 Statements made by victims of torture during the Sept. 12, 1980 coup era and published recently in an indictment of the case of the bloody coup d’état have revealed the sheer horror of the time.
A 50-year-old man was made to believe that he was dead and that he and all the other inmates were living in a grave. Selim Dindar, who shared a ward with Mehmet Salih Besen in Diyarbak?r Prison, recounted his story: “On Fridays, people would come to visit us. He [Besen] would ask us: ‘Can we touch those who visit us? No. They just look at us from a distance and they cry and go because they are actually visiting our graves. You know, in Cizre, people visit graves on Friday’.”
Besen would say to other inmates the prison guards were the guardians of Hell, according to Dindar, who said he would make other inmates, including himself, believe that they were actually dead. Dindar said he later found out that Besen had a heart attack and died when he really realized that he had gotten out of what he was going through alive.
The torture that was carried out led to an innocent resident of Ad?yaman losing his vision and his eardrum rupturing after being subjected to torture for two months. You can read more below.
Selim Dindar (subjected to torture in a Diyarbak?r prison in the post-coup era):

“Sometimes we couldn’t distinguish what was real and what was not. For instance, I completely lost my sense of reality with respect to the case of Mehmet Salih Besen. He was about 50 years old. He would believe we were all dead. ‘We are dead and in our graves,’ he would say. ‘No, it is not true. We are [living] in real life,’ we would object. But he would defend that the ward was actually a grave so convincingly that some of us, including me, had started to believe him. For instance, on Fridays, people would come to visit us. He would ask us: ‘Can we touch those who visit us? No. They just look at us from a distance and they cry and go. Because they are actually visiting our graves. You know, in Cizre, people visit graves on Friday.’ He would say that the guards were the guardians of Hell. … As a matter of fact, the window panes of the ward were painted. We couldn’t see outside; we couldn’t smell or hear it. This went on for a while and we couldn’t prove we were alive. One day, the door opened and someone said, ‘Mehmet Salih Besen, get ready; you’ll be released.’ ‘See, we are alive,’ I told him. But he replied, crying: ‘Selim, do not let them take me. Protect me. Now I am going to the plain of Resurrection for Judgment.’ Later, we learned [the rest of the story] from a young boy who was released with him. They took them to the civilian prison in Siirt. ‘If you allow me to talk to my wife and children, I will believe that I am not dead,’ he said. The prison director allowed them to phone home. The young boy phoned Besen’s home and his wife answered the phone. He gave the receiver to Besen, who asked his wife, ‘Am I alive?’ and then the receiver fell. Besen could not believe he would make it out alive when he saw the violence inside. When he really realized that he had gotten out of it alive, he had a heart attack and died.”

Orhan Miro?lu (writer):

“They started to torture us immediately after we were taken from the concentration area to the Diyarbak?r prison. First, they told us to get naked. We complied and made ourselves completely naked. They rushed to beat us with clubs. Every inch of our body was bruised. … Everyone was moaning in pain. … Captain Esay Oktay Y?ld?r?m, the director of the prison, ordered that we be taken to a bath. Some thought they were taking us to a normal bath, but they took us to the sewage downstairs. They ordered us to lie down in the sewage among the feces. They kept us like that for a long time. Then they stuffed at least 10 people into the two-person cells. We were all bruised and would feel great pain whenever someone touched us. They made us wait naked and stuck to each other for days. When they opened the door, we all fell together to the ground.

Friends of Bedii Tan, who died in prison from torture, said: “It was the holy month of Ramadan. It was July 1982. They said, ‘You can fast if you want.’ They wouldn’t allow us to eat the pre-dawn meal, and the fast-breaking meal would be eaten after 8 p.m. Actually, they hinted that we shouldn’t fast. But Bedii Tan chose to fast. They made us perform physical exercises on the concrete ground and with upper halves naked. They realized that Bedii Tan was fasting. They made him eat handfuls of excrement from the sewage. Bedii Tan was beaten and he became ill. The guard summoned him. They poured a bucket of cold water over his head. He fell down. He was ordered to stand up. He could hardly do so. Then, the guard performed a Taekwon-do move and kicked Bedii Tan’s chest with his foot. The poor guy fell to the ground head-over-feet. They pressed on his abdomen [while he was] on the ground. His intestines and kidneys were damaged. Bedii Tan died 33 days after he entered ward no. 33.”

Abdurrahman Yücel (Ad?yaman resident, tailor):

“At the police station, they asked, ‘Are you Abdurrahman?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ They made me get into a vehicle and took me to the notorious Pirin Palas Prison and locked me in a dark room. When I asked what my guilt was, the commander said: ‘We heard that you are aiding the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist] organization. I told him I had no ties to the organization and he could ask the neighborhood head [mukhtar] about me to make sure. Who cares? They began to hit me with a club. Then they took me to a lower floor. They covered my eyes and mouth with a cloth. They began to hit the soles of my feet very hard. They cut my feet with razors. Then they made me walk in salt water. They shaved my hair.

“Because of the club strikes, Yücel’s eardrum was ruptured and he went blind. After two months of torture, he was released from jail, without any explanation, when it was understood he had been mistaken for someone else. He lived in darkness for the rest of his life, another 30 years,” the indictment says about what Yücel went through after being released from prison.

Mustafa Yalç?ner (Deputy leader of the Labor Party (EMEP):

“I was arrested seven months after the military coup. They gave electric shocks to every part of our bodies. However, I felt the electric shock more severely whenever they attached the wires to my teeth. I don’t know whether teeth are stronger conductors, but you feel it in your brain when they attach the wires to your teeth. My questioning took three-and-a-half months. When it was over, there was a round-shaped bruise on my penis. There was blood in my urine for two months. I lost one of my teeth every year. A slipped disk occurred in my lower back and neck. They would make us walk, especially after bastinado, in order to prevent the build-up of blood and burst blood vessels in our feet.”

Mahir Kadir Damatlar (deputy chairman of the Ülkü Ocaklar?, a youth organization of the far right political front, in the 1980s):

“I was arrested on Oct. 8, 1980. My interrogation lasted for two-and-a-half months. All that happened back then has stayed with us. We held our tears back. Ours is a pain that should be much spoken about and which had a divine aspect. There was torture in every part of Turkey. I was tortured, too. They [the torturers] killed two of our friends in Malatya and threw their bodies from a window. They killed Bekir Ba? near me in C-5 [bloc] of Mamak [Prison]. Then they said he had gone missing. They used methods of torture you would never be able to imagine.”

O?uzhan Müftüo?lu (Birgün daily columnist, also responsible for the ?stanbul branch of the Revolutionary Path (DEV-YOL), a Marxist group:

“I was captured four months after the Sept. 12 coup. I was interrogated for 80 days as the number one suspect connected with the Revolutionary Path (DEV-YOL) at DAL (the Deep Research Lab), which was notorious for torturing people at the Ankara Police Station. Their routine methods of torture, such as bastinado, the administration of electric shocks, reverse hanging, spraying people with high-pressure water, were used on all and were also used on me. Policemen took me from the Ankara Police Station, where I had been tortured for 80 days, and placed me in Mamak Prison. Before they put me in prison, they procured a medical report from the infirmary that said that I was healthy. I asked the doctor in the infirmary to certify the evidence of torture on my body. The doctor, who was also a third lieutenant, hesitantly looked at the noncommissioned officer who was standing next to me and said he had no authority to do so. I told the doctor that I was a lawyer and would file a case against the policemen who tortured me, so if he did not certify the evidence of torture on my body, he would be committing a crime. The noncommissioned officer said ‘okay’ to the doctor and certified the visible evidence of torture on my body in his report. After an application [I filed], I appeared before prosecutors a month later. I told the prosecutors the name of a policeman who had tortured me. They wanted me to describe him. The prosecutors thought I would be unable to describe him because my eyes were covered while I was tortured. However, when I had been called to give a written testimony, I [encountered and] recognized my torturer from his voice and saw his face. I told the prosecutors that I could even draw a picture of him. He was surprised.

“I drew a picture of the torturer. The prosecutors immediately recognized him because he was a well-known torturer. A case was filed against that policeman. A month later, that policeman stood before us as a suspect in court. There were medical reports certifying the use of torture. The diagnoses and eyewitnesses were all available. It was certain that the policeman would be punished. On the day when the court was to give a verdict, the judge was appointed to another position. The judge who replaced him decided to release the policeman without ever listening to us. Our lawyer, ?brahim Tezan, found out later that that policeman had presented a document to the court to be included in his defense — a certificate of honorable service given to him by Kenan Evren.

2. Accounts of torture from the complainants (Part 2)

This section includes accounts of torture from individuals subjected to torture during the military coup of 1980 and taken from criminal complaints filed by them against coup perpetrators for inflicting torture and violating the Constitution by staging a coup.

Mustafa Kahya: (Statement dated Nov. 14, 2011)

“Prior to the Sept. 12 coup, I worked as a teacher of literature in Diyarbak?r for a year. Later I was laid off temporarily from my job. At the time, I was a manager at the Teachers’ Association TÖBDER. I moved to ?stanbul. I was a worker in a textile workshop. On April 13, 1982, I was detained. I was interrogated for 44 days at a police station’s bureau investigating political crimes in ?stanbul’s Gayrettepe. My eyes were covered during my interrogation and as I was taken to the bureau. They asked me about the managers of a left-wing organization, named Kurtulu?, and their organizational hierarchy. When I said I did not know, they tortured me during the time I was kept in the bureau. Their methods included bastinado (beating of the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands) and tying my naked body in the form of T and administering electric shocks to my body. When my feet were bruised and swollen, they would take a break from applying bastinado and remove the swollen parts on my feet with a blade and apply a white cream so they wouldn’t go gangrene.”

“I was referred to ?zmir Buca Prison after Antalya Prison. There, having all the inmates in uniform was being discussed. Since we didn’t accept, they [the officers in the prison] made me and 12 other people strip naked and put us in underground wards. We were two people in each ward. The wards had no heating system or blankets. We had to warm each other up not to die. One lied face-down and the other lied on that person face-up.”

Y?lmaz K?z?l?rmak:(Statement dated Nov. 22, 2011)

“Before Sept. 12, 1980, I worked at workers’ union, named DEV.MADEN-SEN, which is affiliated with the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (D?SK). They detained me and Chairman Müslüm ?ahin on Sept. 10, 1980. Later I was arrested and put in Mamak Military Prison on Sept. 11, 1980. I was taken to a place that they called “the cage.” From 3 p.m. to midnight, we were beaten by the soldiers. The cage had wide holes. They hit us with clubs from those holes. In the C-5 bloc, there was a torture center where inmates were taken before going to the police station. I was taken there five times on different dates. Each time they gave me electric shocks, they beat me down and they doused us with cold water. In the same place, they administered electric shocks to my genitals and toes. There were 14 wards in the B bloc of the prison. One of them had a bathroom. They used that bathroom as torture place.”


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