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This Leviathan desperately needs to be tamed?
1.       thehandsom
7403 posts
 17 Oct 2008 Fri 10:57 am

Some of our policemen are actually sadistic brutes. Time has come to stop their horrific ways of terrorizing the society. I hope Justice Minister’s apology will be a step toward that

  When the movie Midnight Express made headlines in 1978, many Turks were quite angry. The film presented Turkey´s prisons as slices of hell and many people here denounced it as ?anti-Turkish propaganda.?

  I was too young to understand such matters then. But I grew up a little and watched Midnight Express in the early 1990´s, when it was, for the first time, shown on Turkish television. (Before that, it was banned.) And unlike most of my countrymen, I was not offended by its content. Yes, it was apparently exaggerating the conditions that Billy Hayes, the main character who was imprisoned in Istanbul for smuggling hashish, faced in Turkish courts and prisons. But the main message of the film was bitterly true: Turkey is a country where torture had been a systematic function of the security forces. It used to be so bad that how to protect yourself from these ?security forces? had become the main concern for millions of citizens.

Torture as a state function:

  So, instead of lashing out against Midnight Express, we Turks should have lashed out against our iron-handed state, which has brutally tortured so many people. Especially during the dark periods of military coups, but also in ´normal´ times, the Turkish police, gendarmerie and other men in arms have done terrible, awful, evil things. This has not just traumatized and ended lives, it also consolidated the very thing that the state wanted to carve out: political, and sometimes violent, opposition. It is well known that the outlawed PKK (the Kurdistan´s Workers Party) had its biggest recruitment among the victims of the infamous Diyarbakir Military Prison. The tortures the inmates went through in that wicked place were unbelievable. The PKK´s terrorist reaction would be unbelievable, too.

  Now, to be fair, Turkey has made some progress from that point of ultimate brutality. Since the late 90´s, mostly thanks to the European Union-driven reforms, torture has been decreased and security forces have become more transparent and responsible. The police are actually trying to erase their bad image by launching public relations campaigns. Police stations present posters of smiling cops. And I have personally met young and kind officers who sincerely believe in a democratic, free, and torture-less Turkey.

  But, as in other cases, old habits apparently die hard. And the Turkish ?security forces? can still be a threat to the rights and lives of Turkish citizens, as evidenced by the recent tragedy of Engin Ceber.

  Mr. Ceber, a young left wing political activist, was arrested on September 29 in Istanbul, while protesting against the shooting of one of his comrades, Ferhat Gerçek, for simply selling a leftist journal. Mr. Ceber, along with three other activists, spent nine nights in custody, in first the Istinye Police Station and then Metris Prison. Then he was taken to Sisli Etfal Hospital, where he died two days later. The cause of his death was a ?brain hemorrhage,? which clearly implies that he was beaten to death by the police.

  This is so Turkish police as usual. I remember many cases like this over the years, in which the police beat their captives to death and then reported that they ?committed suicide.? Some police files are so bizarre that they say things like ?the detainee suddenly started to hit his head against the wall and we couldn´t stop him.?

  Just yesterday another incident took place in Istanbul, which again, pointed to the sad fact that some of our policemen are actually sadistic brutes. As reported by daily Milliyet, an undercover police asked for tea in a teahouse in the Kartal district. He didn´t like the shape of the cups, so he didn´t want to pay. After a heated discussion, this police and his friends started beating the poor shop owner. His skull is reported to have been broken because the police put him to the ground and crushed his head with their feet.

  Of course no apology will compensate for the tragic loss of the Ceber family. But it is still meaningful that a state official apologizes to a family ?in the name of the state.? This is a society which is brainwashed to believe that the state is a sacred entity which never does anything wrong. For some Turks, actually, the state has become the definition of what is right and what is wrong.

  Time has come to change that. And although I am not holding my breath,..

Their own experience with the Turkish state must have taught them that this Leviathan desperately needs to be tamed.


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