Former political prisoner has his torture complaint ignored

Former political prisoner Emir Karakum was severely tortured in prison. While his complaint about the torture was ignored, he was charged with resisting those who tortured him.

Emir Karakum was arrested in December 2021 during a house search in Samsun in the Turkish Black Sea region and was severely tortured in custody. He was arrested for alleged “membership in a terrorist organization.” The only “evidence” was his participation in rallies for ill prisoners and prison visits. He was released after ten months. Now he is charged with resisting attacks while in custody. He spoke to ANF about the repression against him.

Cell raids and torture

After his arrest, Karakum was initially taken to the T-type prison in Samsun. That's where the attacks began. Prison guards repeatedly stormed his cell and physically and verbally abused him. Karakum said: “For the first 12 days of my 25-day stay there, they did nothing because of the pandemic, but then when I was taken to the cell, it was searched for five days in a row and I was systematically tortured. I was beaten by the guards and my head was repeatedly hit against the wall. In addition, the prison administration censored the letters I wrote to inform my family and lawyers about the torture.”

On 31 December 2021, Karakum was transferred from Samsun to Bafra T-Type Prison. The attacks continued there. Karakum was only able to stop the attacks with a hunger strike and his subsequent dismissal.

Forced to sing the national anthem

Karakum said: “The torture in Bafra prison started from the first moment. When I entered the prison, I was strip-searched in a three-meter box-shaped room. When I waited to register, they tried to force me to sing the Turkish national anthem. When I resisted, I was attacked by the guards. After a while they let me go because I protested with slogans and refused to sing the anthem. When I was taken to the infirmary before I was taken to my cell, I pointed out my injuries from the beating. The medical staff ignored the signs of torture. That same day I was abused in the hallway. When I went to the infirmary again, the prison doctor in charge, Ferdi Arar, did not take the injuries seriously either. There were 30 guards in the examination room with me. I explained that I wanted the torturing guards to go out and that I wanted to be examined by the doctor in a secluded area. The doctor claimed it was the first time he had heard something like that in his life and ignored my demands. I was then mistreated for ten minutes by dozens of prison guards who were with prison doctor Ferdi Arar. They kicked me with their boots, I received countless blows to the face and was taken out of the infirmary semi-conscious. This is evidenced by prison camera footage that was released to the press.”

The torture apparently affected not only prisoners on remand, but also those who had already been sentenced. Karakum stated that on 6 April, he witnessed a disabled and ill prisoner named Batuhan Satık being tortured in his cell by guards and that he himself was pressured for protesting.

Karakum reported another attack on 25 April 2022, in which he was initially insulted by the guards while walking in the courtyard and beaten in front of the cameras. He tried to go to the infirmary again. But the doctor was not interested in his injuries. When Karakum protested against this, he was severely mistreated in front of the doctor.

Turkish justice system ignores torture

Karakum explained that he, his lawyers and his family filed a criminal complaint against the torture and the prosecutor's office did not even record his statement. He said: “Our criminal complaints were ignored. I was never allowed to see the prosecutor. I then went on hunger strike and the prosecutor agreed to talk to me. On the 113th day of my hunger strike, I was released with a restraining order months before I was due to appear in court. This was due to the hunger strike and the fact that the torture I was subjected to had become public."

New procedures initiated

While no action was taken regarding the torture even after his release, proceedings were initiated against Karakum based on counter-complaints from guards and the prison doctor. Karakum said: “I was systematically tortured in Bafra Prison and when I went on hunger strike to stop the torture and bring the torturers to justice, I was released with an injunction. Afterwards, the guards who tortured me, the doctor who ignored the torture, and the prison administration filed a lawsuit against me. The complaints claimed that I had insulted the guards and resisted them. Four separate lawsuits were filed against me for my resistance to torture. In addition, the court hearing that led to my arrest will take place on 11 November and in which two key witnesses will testify against me. While I was waiting for the torturers to be brought to justice, I learned that I too would be charged with resisting them. I will continue to take legal action against those who tortured me and fight for their punishment.”