Jailed HDP MP Semra Güzel recalls mistreatment by police: 'One of them said it gave him pleasure

In an interview with Gazete Duvar, HDP MP Semra Güzel said that during her detention process, she warned the police against mistreating her, but was told by one of the officers: "I'm doing it for pleasure."

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Semra Güzel who has been arrested after parliament lifted her immunity on accusations of terrorism told about her detention process.

A court on Sept. 3. ordered the pre-trial jailing of Güzel on a terrorism charge. Veysi Eski, a lawyer for Güzel, said the charge against the deputy was unfounded and called it a continuation of the “political genocide operations” against the HDP.

Güzel had her parliamentary immunity lifted in March after photos of her from several years ago with a militant from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) circulated on Turkish media. An arrest warrant was subsequently issued on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization."

When the photos first surfaced in January, Güzel said the person was her fiance and the photos were taken when she visited him during a peace process between the Turkish state and the PKK that broke down in 2015.

Earlier this month, authorities detained and then arrested Güzel with pro-government media alleging that she was caught with a fake passport while trying to flee Turkey.

Güzel denied the allegations and said, "If I wanted to go, I would have gone." 

The HDP deputy said that during her detention process, she warned the police against mistreating her, but was told by one of the officers: "I'm doing it for pleasure."

Below are the questions asked by Gazete Duvar and the deputy's answers:

The parliament lifted your immunity on March 1, 2022. On March 24, an arrest warrant was issued for you. Have you ever thought of fleeing in the past five months?

The process of the parliament for lifting my immunity process was not a legal and ethical process.

I was not banned from going abroad during the process. I have gone abroad many times as part of diplomatic negotiations as a lawmaker. If I wanted to go, I would go again. 

I was already in Istanbul when I was detained. I was not near the border (in Edirne trying to flee). 

According to the images shared by the press, the police were trying to keep your head down while you were being detained. What did you feel at that moment?

First of all, I would like to point out that the government currently carries out its electoral work by attacking the opposition, especially through the HDP, the will of the Kurds, the common struggle of the peoples, women's struggles. This situation itself as well as the lifting of immunity in this period is a part of it. 

I and many of my friends who are in my situation, the struggle of the Kurdish people is being judged. As the representatives of people, we tried to continue the fight for democracy and freedom of the people in every field and we will continue.

On the day you were detained, allegations were made about you that you were "caught fleeing abroad," "caught with a fake passport," "wearing a wig and disguised." However, according to what you say, you were detained in Istanbul’s Silivri district, not Edirne. Could you tell us a little about your detention process, what do you say about these allegations?

It was revealed within a few hours that what was reflected in the press was not true. I wore my daily clothes and glasses, I wasn’t wearing a wig.

They said "there was a fake passport," but I didn't even have a passport with me. All of them were used only as part of a fiction. I tried to warn one of the police officers who mistreated me, and the answer I got was "I'm doing it for pleasure."

You are also a doctor. Did you have any problems at the hospital while being taken to the health check? Many prisoners say they were ill-treated on the way to the hospital. Many prisoners also criticize the behavior of doctors. Have you encountered ill-treatment at the hospital?

Although they deny it, they tortured me when I was taken for a health check. 

I think a delegation from the EU on this specific issue came to Turkey recently, due to the increased ill-treatment. However, the government denies this.

Likewise, this situation has become the norm of the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) rather than a violation of human rights. I was handcuffed while I was officially a deputy. On the second day, they handcuffed me behind my back even during the health check.

On both days, they made a serious effort to keep my head down when I entered and exited the building. We have filed criminal complaints regarding these violations. 

Many doctors know that the examination cannot be performed when handcuffed and while law enforcement officers are inside. This is an issue of judicial investigation and doctors know this.

What would you like to say about all these experiences?

Currently, I am in prison because of the cooperation of the government and the opposition. As in every prison, there is complete isolation (for us). But there are some actions taken by the prisoners in this regard. Inside, the resistance continues. 

Frankly, I don't think we can say anything about ourselves when there are Saturday Mothers (who have been gathering in Istanbul since 1995 to demand justice for their relatives who were allegedly disappeared and killed by undercover units) and families who are still waiting for their killed children's bones to be found, while families are given the bodies of their children in bags.

The only thing we can do and say is that we will continue to fight, even if they put us within four walls. We have such a historical responsibility. And we come from such a tradition of resistance. 

We know that in the very near future, those who perpetrated this persecution will be held accountable before the public. 

To conclude, I would like to share the following anecdote: They asked a Pharaoh: “When and how did you become so cruel?” The Pharaoh said, "Ask this to those who did not stop me from doing cruel things, not me." 

We are resisting in order to put an end to this cruelty. This government, which bases its policy on elections and does not hesitate to play all kinds of dirty games, will receive the greatest response from the people after nine months at the latest. The birth of freedom and peace is near.

(English version by Alperen Şen)