Three women battered by Turkish police now suffer from permanent disabilities

Three women who were injured by police at different events now suffer from lifelong disabilities. While the women's injuries differ from fractured spines to broken feet, one thing is common: None of the assailants who injured them were prosecuted for it.

Lawyer Zeycan Balcı is seen in this file photo.

Filiz Gazi / DUVAR

Battered by Turkish police at different incidents, Dilşat Aktaş, Zeycan Balcı and Zeyno Bayramoğlu are three women who now suffer from permanent disabilities the state inflicted on them.

Co-director of Artvin's Halkevleri, Dilşat Aktaş, was injured on May 31, 2011, during a protest condemning the killing of retired teacher Metin Lokumcu.

"We couldn't have tolerated a ban on the protesting of a person's murder by police violence," Aktaş said. "We wanted to leave a black wreath in front of the local offices of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP]."

The crowd that Aktaş was part of was met with heavy police presence in front of the AKP offices, but they wanted to continue walking, she said, adding that she climbed on top of an armed vehicle as a protest against police violence - an action that police later retaliated brutally. 

"One of them saw me and said 'That's her!' A civilian police officer out of uniform hit me with a club and I fell to the ground. I can still hear them saying 'You'll see what it means to climb on top of the vehicle. Hit her groins, her groins!'" Aktaş said. 

Police ordered her to stand up after severely beating and torturing her with questionings, she said, but she realized she couldn't stand up on her legs.

"They started dragging me to the detention vehicle but realized I couldn't walk., so I asked them to call an ambulance. One of them said 'Forget it dude, she's definitely gonna die and it'll end up being our fault.' Then they just left," Aktaş said.

The survivor had to get surgery that lasted five and a half hours, and shortened her leg by a little over an inch, she said, adding that she has three screws in her body that still remain. 

"I was in the hospital for two and a half months and stayed in a wheelchair for six months. I used a clutch for a year. I still have the screws after 10 years," Aktaş noted.

The 42 police officers who battered Aktaş remain anonymous after a decade, she added. 

Irreversibly altered lives 

Attorney Zeycan Balcı's spine was fractured on March 30, 2016 when a police officer kicked her in the back during a peaceful demonstration in front of the Istanbul Courthouse. 

"My colleagues were staging a sit-in so I sat down. Police started pushing us around soon after. I couldn't get up in the ruckus. An officer started kicking me, I think he hit 30 to 40 times," Balcı said. 

The officer who kicked the attorney was wearing combat boots, mounted with steel tips, she said, adding that all the officers left the scene when they realized she couldn't stand up. 

"Then they followed the ambulance and told them to take me to Şişli Etfal Hospital, where they thought they could manipulate the report more easily," Balcı noted, referring to the report proving injuries. 

Balcı's life has been irreversibly altered by her injury, taking away her movement capability, her ability to pick up her children and her pleasure of wearing high heels, she said. 

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Ankara Women's Assembly spokeswoman Zeyno Bayramoğlu was injured during an environmental protest in Artvin on Feb 21, 2016 when police fired plastic bullets and deployed pressured water on the crowd. 

Bayramoğlu fell off of an eight-meter high wall, breaking both her legs and needing five surgeries in the following 15 days, she said. 

Bayramoğlu pressed charges against the gendarmerie, then-governor of Artvin, and the Interior Minister of the time, all with no results, she added.