Human Rights Watch accuses Turkey of torture

According to a Human Rights report published on Tuesday prisoners were tortured and abused after the failed coup in July. The state of emergency declared by the government after the coup is still in force today. Commentators observe a climate of fear in Turkey and criticise the EU's failure to exert pressure on the government.

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Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Government creating system of fear

It is a sorry state of affairs when even lawyers are so intimidated that they fail to defend their clients against torture, the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet criticises:

“Anyone who reads the Human Rights Watch report and reflects on the horrors that were perpetrated after July 15, which forced even lawyers to duck their heads, as was common in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, will be even more frightened and intimidated now. … If you [the government] get rid of the judiciary entirely, extend custody and prevent prisoners from seeing their lawyers, everyone will end up fearing you. … We know this from experience. In all countries where fascism rules, lawyers who have had to stand and watch their clients being beaten are afraid to fight for justice and opt to remain silent. … Fascism grows with this silence. And the silence of the masses quickly becomes the silence of victims.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Outrage must generate pressure

The EU must now find the right way to react to the accusations, taz demands:

“Pointing to France in particular, [the Turkish government] is trying to portray the state of emergency as a normal anti-terror measure. The French Foreign Minister, during his visit to Ankara on Monday, offered only the weakest remonstration. This is simply not enough. The EU and the individual EU countries must react as strongly to torture as they would to the reintroduction of the death penalty. But this cannot mean breaking off talks with the Turkish government. It is on this point that we are now seeing a fatal meeting of the right and some on the left, specifically the CSU and the Linkspartei. The former, because they never wanted Turkey to join the EU, and the latter driven by genuine outrage. But outrage is useless if it can't be turned into pressure. And pressure is only possible if you keep the conversation going and, if necessary, have something to offer.”