Police batter teenager in Gaziantep 'for wearing keffiyeh,' prevent him from getting medical report

A teenager named Ahmet Gündüz was battered by police in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, and was barred from obtaining a medical report by the same officers. The prosecutor's office initially dismissed the criminal complaint regarding the battery, only to back down later upon the mother's appeal.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

A 16-year-old named Ahmet Gündüz was battered by police upon detention on March 3, which his mother said was because he wore a keffiyeh, a cotton scarf unique to the Middle East, often associated with the Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Gündüz was sitting at a park in the Nizip district of southeastern Gaziantep when police officers approached him and asked to see identification, and then detained him.

"They took me to the police station and put me in a room. They slapped me in the face and battered me," said the teenager.

The teenager's mother Şenay Aslan said that his face was covered in bruises after his release, and that they went to the hospital to get a battery report.

"The police officers that beat my son showed up and prevented us from getting an official battery report. I demand that surveillance footage form the hospital is revealed," said the mother.

Prosecutors initially dismiss the battery charges

Despite the lack of an official report, the mother pressed charges against the police officers, saying that she didn't want to lose a second son to police violence, as Muhammet Emin Gündüz was killed by an armored police vehicle last year.

The prosecutor's office initially dismissed the battery charges of Ahmet Gündüz on the grounds that there was "no reason" to prosecute, a ruling that the mother promptly appealed on the grounds that surveillance footage from the police station was included in the case.

"[The police station] is where my son was battered. I believe that this footage is being withheld on purpose," the mother said.

The prosecutor's office launched an investigation upon the mother's appeal, asking to be handed surveillance video from the police station where Gündüz gave his testimony.

The prosecutor also ordered the identification of the police officers involved, and for them to give statements on the incident.

"My son was detained because he wore a keffiyeh. I lost one son. I will not let my son's beaters rest easy. I will try every legal means. Torture and battery are inhumane," said the mother.

HDP deputy asks if investigation launched into police officers in question

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Hüseyin Kaçmaz presented a series of parliamentary questions to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu about the battery of the 16 year old, asking whether there had been any consequences to it.

"What was the reason for Ahmet Gündüz’s detention? Was there any action taken against the police officers who arbitrarily battered him, prevented him from obtaining a report and violated his rights?"

The deputy also asked whether it was true that Gündüz was detained for wearing a keffiyeh, and whether the surveillance footage from the police station was veiled on purpose.

The questions also inquired whether the Interior Ministry had been conducting an investigation about the incident, and how many officers were the subject of an investigation.

Lastly, the deputy asked what kind of measures would be placed to prevent "an increasingly common practice of arbitrary, irresponsible, illegal and partisan conduct among security forces."

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