SADAT’s Urfa unit disappears dozens in Northern Syria
A lawyer in the city confirmed the account of the police officer gave on the special unit under SADAT in Urfa, and spoke about the unit’s local network. The lawyer said this unit has tortured hundreds of people and disappeared dozens of Northern Syrians.
A police officer who worked in the Urfa Antiterror Unit during the bomb attacks in Urfa, Besiktas (Istanbul) and Kayseri in December 2016 said a SADAT unit with 40 members, 4 of whom are prosecutors, have been put on duty in the city. The same officer said this unit under the Presidency and the Interior Ministry tortured countless people in two years and targeted HDP members and administrators.
The special unit under SADAT (International Defense Consultancy Corp.) founded by Erdogan’s chief security advisor former Brigadier General Adnan Tanriverdi was confirmed by a lawyer who wishes to remain anonymous.
THERE ARE 3 UNITS COMMITTING CRIMES
The lawyer who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons said the unit isn’t tasked only with torture, but works to constantly surveil opposition groups in the region and targets Kurdish politicians in particular.
The lawyer said the structure is divided into 3 units. The first unit is made up of 15 people, and they are tasked with interrogations under custody and preparing the detention lists.
The second unit is active in the Suruc, Siverek, Bozova, Viransehir, Ceylanpinar, Halfeti and Hilvan districts where Kurdish politicians are strong. This unit also has 15 members.
The third unit is made up of 10 people and this unit is concerned more with espionage activity among Kurdish youth.
TEAMS IN THE UNITS
The 15 person torture unit is divided into two teams, according to the lawyer. The first team of 8 people is more concerned with interrogation and torture of the detainees, and the second team of 7 people mostly oversees the detention operations and prepares lists of people to take into custody.
These detention lists are not given to police chiefs or prosecutors, but rather go directly to the Interior Minister to be approved, and the operations are launched accordingly. The lawyer said the units work together in extreme cohesion and that the team tasked with detention operations receive the list of people from the other team in the field.
POLITICAL EXTENSIONS OF THE TEAMS
The lawyer said that the second team in the field has two branches. The first part, made up of 5 people, is active in central Urfa districts Suruc, Ceylanpinar, Halfeti and Viransehir. The lawyer listed the connections this part have: “They are connected to Ceylanpinar Mayor Menderes Atilla, his brother Mehmet Sait Atilla and the head village guards. In the Bozova district their connections are state officials and AKP members. In the Suruc district, the Yildiz and Simsek families, the AKP district chapter and AKP’s city council members support them. In Viransehir their connections are Lokman Beyaz, a mover for the military and the village guards, the municipal trustee’s aide Halef Kete (former council member from MHP, current council member from AKP) and the AKP district chapter. This team is tasked with weakening Kurdish politicians in the region and create pressure.”
COUNTER ACTIVITY BY THE UNIT
The 10 people in the second unit are tasked with counter activity in the rural areas of the Suruc, Ceylanpinar, Akcakale, Halfeti and Bozova districts of Urfa.
The lawyer said hundreds of agents have been placed in the villages of these districts in the last two years and that there is an armed unit with 300 members in Suruc alone.
The lawyer continued: “In the last two years, 300 hundred people have been provided with weapons under the guise of the village guard. These people who received the weapons are officially registered as village guards, but they work under this unit directly. They have one or two agents in every village, and they place agents in villages if they don’t have any there.”
ESPIONAGE ACTIVITY OF THE STRUCTURE
This structure’s final unit of 10 people are tasked with espionage. This branch works in the Viransehir, Siverek, Hilvan, Ceylanpinar, Akcakale, Suruc and Halfeti districts of Urfa in central and rural neighborhoods to turn Kurdish youth into spies.
The lawyer said the members of this unit hide their identity in these districts and enter the Kurdish youth circles, targeting addicted youth mostly.
The lawyer said the members of this unit surveil young people who have been in prison on accusations of membership to a terrorist organization. These young people are on a list of first to detain in an operation, and the unit has caused the detention of 297 people, mostly young men, since they first started their activity in Urfa.
FORCED ABDUCTIONS NOT PUT ON TRIAL
The lawyer pointed out that this unit has been involved in forced abductions in Urfa and that only one of these abductions has ever been subject to a trial. A citizen named E.Ç. was cut off by two vehicles, one grey and one white, as he left his home on March 26, 2018 at 09:00 and was forced into the grey vehicle. The lawyer said: “His wife F.Ç. saw this and let his father know. F.Ç. went to the police station and said her husband was abducted, filing a complaint. From 09:00 in the morning to 18:00 in the evening, she appealed to every office including the Antiterror Unit, but she couldn’t find out anything about her husband. A man who said he was from the Antiterror Unit called her in the evening and said her husband was in fact in custody in the Antiterror Unit headquarters.”
What E.Ç. went through in those 9 hours is unknown. The Antiterror Unit told the family they didn’t have him at first, and they admitted to having the man in custody only after 9 hours. The lawyer said: “E.Ç. was in custody for 30 days, under severe torture. 15 days after he was detained, he was taken to the prosecutor’ office and there he said he was being tortured. The prosecutor’s office called for extended time in custody, and E.Ç. was sent back to the Antiterror Unit. He was tortured further, and the policemen told him if he speaks of the abduction and the torture, his family would be tortured to death. E.Ç. signed a confession forced on him by the police, and was arrested and imprisoned in court for membership to a terrorist organization.”
THE INDICTMENT DOESN’T MENTION THE ABDUCTION
The lawyer said E.Ç.’s abduction wasn’t included in the indictment for the case. The record showed that E.Ç. had been detained from his place of work at 18:00 in the evening. E.Ç.’s statement in court and is family’s receipt of the complaint they filed has been noted in the court records. The lawyer relayed E.Ç.’s statement in court: “I was detained at 09:00 in the morning from my home. They put a bag over my head when they pushed me into the car. They lifted the bag occasionally when I couldn’t breathe. I’m from Urfa, I know the roads. They took me to the Akabe neighborhood side in the Eyubiye district with the car. I could see military boots when I looked down, and roots of pine trees. Then they took me down 3 or 4 steps. They took me right, then left, and led me through a door. Then I was blindfolded over the bag and couldn’t see anything else. I was forcibly stripped naked and tortured there. 9 hours later, I was taken to the Antiterror Unit.”
“DOZENS OF SYRIANS DISAPPEARED”
The lawyer said this structure has much deeper connections: “I have experienced first hand how deep this structure goes. But the stories being told is just one facet of this structure. Then there is the invisible side. In the last two years, hundreds of people have been tortured. But in particular, the fate of dozens of people brought to Urfa from Northern Syrian provinces is unknown, and I am of the opinion that most of these people have been forcibly disappeared under custody.”