Human Rights Foundation of Turkey reports 17 torture cases in quake zone

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) has prepared a report on rights violations following the earthquakes that hit the southeastern region on Feb. 6. The foundation reported many cases of torture, lynching incidents, detentions, along with attacks towards media members in the quake zone.

One of the earthquake survivor writes on the wall: 'Our house was destroyed, not our dreams.'

Serkan Alan / Gazete Duvar

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) has prepared a report on human rights violations that occurred between Feb. 6-27 following the earthquakes centered in Antep, Maraş, Hatay, and Malatya provinces in Southeastern Turkey.

According to TİHV's rights violations report, three people died, and nine people were wounded due to the violence of law enforcement officers in prisons in the earthquake zone between Feb. 6-27. On the other hand, one person died due to torture and ill-treatment while under detention. Also, 17 people were subjected to torture and ill-treatment, one person died, and at least 10 people were injured in nine separate incidents in the region.

The report stated that between Feb. 9-13, images of 21 separate lynching incidents were shared on social media due to the allegations of looting in the earthquake zone. The association said, "Some of these posts include people dressed in official uniforms.” At least 44 people were reportedly subjected to lynching in these 21 incidents, and three of them lost their lives.

The report stated that 1,820 of the 1,902 unaccompanied children in the earthquake zone were identified, while 82 children could not be identified. 

The report also includes violations of rights against journalists. At least 22 journalists were subjected to violence, 11 by law enforcement officers and 11 by civilians. At least one journalist was injured, and four journalists were detained. In addition, one foreign journalist was prevented from entering the country. Two journalists were arrested on the allegation of “publicly disseminating misleading information” due to their social media posts

Turkish media watchdog (RTÜK) imposed program suspensions and administrative fines on the Halk TV, Tele 1, and FOX TV channels.

Some 575 people were prosecuted, 141 people were detained, and 27 people were arrested as a result of the investigations initiated on social media posts related to the earthquakes. 

According to the TİHV, another violation of rights after the earthquakes was against political demonstrations. According to the report, "Citizens, NGOs, political parties, and municipalities were prevented at least 20 times from collecting aid for the earthquake victims. 16 people were detained, six people were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, at least one person was subjected to physical violence, and 1 person was fined in this regard.”

In at least seven incidents, law enforcement forces, district governorships, and Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) seized aid materials. One person was wounded in an armed attack against the aid collection activities. Furthermore, 100 trucks sent by the Future Party along with 1,500 tents 10 trucks of aid materials, 30 containers, and 120 generators collected by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were seized by the authorities.

According to the TİHV, there were serious mistakes, negligence, misconduct, and lack of coordination before and after the earthquakes. "The declaration of the state of emergency is a blow to the society's efforts to overcome the crisis with its own solidarity," said the TİHV report.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)