Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

The organization is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held
John Dalhuisen, Europe Director

Detainees are being arbitrarily held, including in informal places of detention. They have been denied access to lawyers and family members and have not been properly informed of the charges against them, undermining their right to a fair trial.

On Saturday the Turkish government issued its first decree under new powers authorised by its declaration of a state of emergency. The decree dramatically increases the amount of time detainees can be held without being charged from four to 30 days.

The change risks exposing detainees to further torture and other ill-treatment. The decree also provides for officials to observe or even record meetings between pre-trial detainees and lawyers, and detainees are restricted in who they can choose to represent them, further undermining the right to a fair trial.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Amnesty International spoke to lawyers, doctors and a person on duty in a detention facility about the conditions detainees were being held in.

The organization heard multiple reports of detainees being held in unofficial locations such as sports centres and a stable. Some detainees, including at least three judges, were held in the corridors of courthouses.

All of the interviewees wished to remain anonymous for security reasons. The organization heard extremely alarming accounts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, particularly at the Ankara Police Headquarters sports hall, Ankara Başkent sports hall and the riding club stables there.

According to these accounts, police held detainees in stress positions, denied them food, water and medical treatment, verbally abused and threatened them and subjected them to beatings and torture, including rape and sexual assault.

Two lawyers in Ankara working on behalf of detainees told Amnesty International that detainees said they witnessed senior military officers in detention being raped with a truncheon or finger by police officers.

A person on duty at the Ankara Police Headquarters sports hall saw a detainee with severe wounds consistent with having been beaten, including a large swelling on his head. The detainee could not stand up or focus his eyes and he eventually lost consciousness. While in some cases detainees were afforded limited medical assistance, police refused to allow this detainee essential medical treatment despite his severe injuries. The interviewee heard one police doctor on duty say: “Let him die. We will say he came to us dead.”

The same interviewee said 650-800 male soldiers were being held in the Ankara police headquarters sports hall. At least 300 of the detainees showed signs of having been beaten. Some detainees had visible bruises, cuts, or broken bones. Around 40 were so badly injured they could not walk. Two were unable to stand. One woman who was also detained in a separate facility there had bruising on her face and torso.

The interviewee also heard police officers make statements indicating that they were responsible for the beatings, and that detainees were being beaten so that “they would talk”.

In general, it appears that the worst treatment in detention was reserved for higher-ranking military officers.

Many of the detainees in the sports hall and other facilities were handcuffed behind their backs with plastic zip-ties and forced to kneel for hours. Interviewees reported that zip-ties were often fastened too tight and left wounds on the arms of detainees. In some cases detainees were also blindfolded throughout their detention.

Lawyers described how people were brought before prosecutors for interrogation with their shirts covered in blood.

Interviewees also said that based on what detainees told them police deprived them of food for up to three days and water for up to two days.

One lawyer working at the Caglayan Courthouse in Istanbul said that some of the detainees she saw there were in extreme emotional distress, with one detainee attempting to throw himself out of a sixth story window and another repeatedly slamming his head against the wall.

Failing to condemn ill-treatment or torture in these circumstances is tantamount to condoning it — John Dalhuisen

“Despite chilling images and videos of torture that have been widely broadcast across the country, the government has remained conspicuously silent on the abuse. Failing to condemn ill-treatment or torture in these circumstances is tantamount to condoning it,” said John Dalhuisen.

Arbitrary detention and absence of due process

Amnesty International interviewed more than 10 lawyers in both Ankara and Istanbul who gave information about the conditions of their clients’ confinement. The lawyers represented up to 18 detainees each. The vast majority of clients were low ranking military personnel, including many conscripts. Some were judges, prosecutors, police, and other civil servants. Detainees were primarily men and were as young as 20.

The accounts of lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, were strikingly similar.

All the lawyers said that in the majority of the cases detainees were held pre-charge for four or more days by the police. With very few exceptions, their clients were being held incommunicado throughout this period and had not been able to inform their families of where they were or what was happening to them.

They were also not able to phone a lawyer and in most cases did not see their lawyers until shortly before being brought to court or being interrogated by prosecutors. One lawyer told Amnesty International that when she finally saw her clients, “[They] gave me the contact information [for their families] so I could call them. The families knew nothing. They were happy to hear their sons were alive.”

Amnesty International spoke with a relative of a high-ranking military official who was detained in Ankara. He said that family members were able to speak with the detained relative on his mobile phone on Saturday 16 July before it was confiscated by the police, but that the family has had no information about his fate or whereabouts since then. Family members made several trips to detention centres in Ankara but were consistently told the detainee was not there. The detainee has also had no access to a lawyer. Such treatment amounts to enforced disappearance which in itself is a crime under international law. This practice places detainees outside the protection of the law and cuts them off from the outside world, putting them at very high risk of torture or even extrajudicial execution.

The lawyers told Amnesty International that in most cases neither they nor their clients were informed of the specific charges against them, either in a charge sheet or in court, making it difficult to prepare a defence. Soldiers who had been detained were brought to court in groups as large as 20 and 25 people. One lawyer described trying to defend his client in the current environment as “trying to find something with the lights off”.

Only one of the detainees represented by lawyers who spoke to Amnesty International was able to choose her own lawyer. According to the other interviewees, private lawyers were not allowed to represent detainees, who were all assigned bar association legal aid lawyers. The detainees’ access to their lawyers was also limited. Lawyers told Amnesty International that after the hearings they were not allowed to speak to their clients who were remanded in pre-trial detention.

Turkey is understandably concerned with public security at the moment, but no circumstances can ever justify torture and other ill-treatment or arbitrary detention
John Dalhuisen

“These are grave violations of the right to a fair trial which is enshrined in both Turkey’s national law and international law,” said John Dalhuisen.

“Turkey is understandably concerned with public security at the moment, but no circumstances can ever justify torture and other ill-treatment or arbitrary detention. The climate in Turkey right now is one of fear and shock. The government must steer the country on the path to respect for rights and law, not engage in retribution.”

Information provided to Amnesty International by lawyers reflected that many detainees were being held arbitrarily. In the vast majority of cases, they said that no evidence establishing reasonable suspicion of criminal behaviour was presented against their clients during the charge hearings; and the hearing did not establish that there were permissible reasons for detention pending trial.

Instead, lawyers explained that judges ordered detained soldiers to be placed in pre-trial detention if they left their barracks the evening of the coup, regardless of the reason. In one case, a detainee who appeared before the court was not asked a single question by the judge at her hearing.

Some of the questioning by judges was entirely irrelevant to the events of the coup attempt, and appeared intended to establish any link to Fethullah Gülen or institutions sympathetic to him.

Authorities accuse Gülen of masterminding the coup attempt, which he has denied.

Lawyers explained that detainees were remanded in pre-trial detention even without a finding that a detainee was a flight risk or that there was a risk a detainee would tamper with evidence, as is legally required.

Detaining people in connection with a criminal charge without demonstrating that you have evidence of criminal wrongdoing is by definition arbitrary and unlawful
John Dalhuisen

“Detaining people in connection with a criminal charge without demonstrating that you have evidence of criminal wrongdoing is by definition arbitrary and unlawful,” said John Dalhuisen.

“These highly irregular, and seemingly systematic practices, must be investigated.”


Amnesty International urges the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to conduct an emergency visit to Turkey to monitor conditions of detention. As a member of the Council of Europe, the Turkish government has an obligation to cooperate with the CPT. The CPT is the only independent body authorized to conduct ad hoc visits to all places of detention in Turkey at the time of their choosing.

The National Human Rights Institution of Turkey, which had access to detention facilities in the country to monitor conditions of detention, was abolished in April 2016 leaving no institution in the country with this mandate. In the current environment, in which thousands of detainees are being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers or relatives, for lengthy pre-charge periods, in irregular detention centres and amid allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, it is vital that monitors are allowed access.

Amnesty International urges the Turkish authorities to adhere to their obligations under international human rights law and not to abuse the state of emergency by trampling on the rights of detainees
John Dalhuisen

“Amnesty International urges the Turkish authorities to adhere to their obligations under international human rights law and not to abuse the state of emergency by trampling on the rights of detainees,” said John Dalhuisen.

“The prohibition of torture is absolute and can never be compromised or suspended.”

Amnesty International urges the Turkish authorities to condemn torture and other ill-treatment in places of detention, and take concrete steps to combat it and hold perpetrators accountable.

Authorities should ensure bar associations and family members are notified of detentions without delay and that lawyers have unimpeded access to their clients at all stages of detention.


His statement on the shootings of African-Americans and the targeting of police officers

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

Michael Jordan speaks to the media as Charlotte Hornets announce the 2017 All-Star game at the Time Warner Cable Arena on June 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.

“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”

Material Inspiration: 10 Projects Inspired by Wood

To celebrate the launch of ArchDaily Materials, our new product catalog, we’ve rounded up 10 awesome projects from around the world that were inspired by one material: wood. Check out the projects after the break…

Saint Benedict Chapel / Peter Zumthor

An expressive roof and solid base make up this wooden chapel in Switzerland, where minimalist wood columns, beams and benches showcase Zumthor’s craftsmanship and his delicate approach to material and detail. It is a building that showcases simplicity, beauty, and a human scale.

Makoko Floating School / NLE Architects

Located in the coastal community of Makoko, a slum neighborhood off the Lagos Lagoon in Lagos, Nigeria, this floating school uses wood as the structure, support and finishing for the completed school. The overall design is composed of a triangular A-Frame section where the second tier houses the classrooms.

Orquideorama / Plan B Architects + 

This outdoor sanctuary in Colombia aimed to unify the natural and artificial, creating a material and spatial organization that is deeply related to the processes of life. Wood is used to make micro scale ”hexagonal modules” that attach to a steel structure.

Winnipeg Skating Shelters / Patkau Architects

Canadian project that makes shelters of thin, flexible plywood, which gives both structure and spatial character through bending/deformation. These shelters help protect skaters from harsh winter winds.

Flederhaus / Heri & Salli

Flederhaus is a vertical public space in Austria that serves as an oasis of relaxation. Wood is used to create steps and platforms that lead to a series of hammocks. It’s an area where one is meant to come in and hang out.

Archery Hall & Boxing Club / FT Architects

Found on the campus of Kogakuin University in west Tokyo, Japan, these two buildings use locally sourced timber to provide accessible and inspiring spaces for the students. Timber, a historical material, has been reanalyzed and transformed into a new building material that emphasizes the stark transparency of the void below.

RAKVERE Summer Theater / Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid

The main design goal of this Estonian theater was to create a closed, comfortable and intimate space that forms an immediate connection with the audience and the actors. The light wooden construction gives space and allows for dynamic stage lighting; after the 12 performances the stage will be dismantled and the timber and boards re-used for other projects.

Boathouse / 

A renovated boathouse in Norway, this project utilizes Norwegian pine exterior cladding impregnated with a by-product from the sugar cane industry, which gives it a grey patina. The honest use of material inspired the new building.

Sunset Cabin / Taylor Smyth Architects

This cabin in Ontario, Canada is encased on three sides by cedar slats; all interior surfaces, including floor and ceiling, are fabricated of birch veneer plywood. The clients desired a private retreat from the main cottage further up the hill that would also enhance their enjoyment of the surrounding landscape in a location previously used to watch the sunset.

Tverrfjellhytta / Snøhetta

The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion is located on the outskirts of Dovrefjell National Park in Norway. The building design is based on a rigid outer shell and an organic inner core, where digital 3D-models were used to drive the milling machines for the interior. Norwegian shipbuilders in Hardangerfjord created the organic shape from 10 inch square pine timber beams. The wood was then assembled in a traditional way using only wood pegs as fasteners.

Putin’s Cronies Helped Russian Mafia In Spain, Prosecutors Say: Report

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the Civic Chamber at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on June 23, 2015.

One of Russia’s largest mafias operated out of Spain for more than a decade with help from some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cronies, prosecutors in Madrid said.

A 488-page complaint to the Central Court obtained by Bloomberg News alleged direct links between Moscow officials and the St. Petersburg-based crime organization Tambrov, which allegedly moved into Spain in 1996 to launder profits from its criminal activities.

The complaint was the culmination of a decade-long probe into the spread of Russian organized crime under Putin’s rule. Prosecutors Juan Carrau and Jose Grinda have formally requested the court to charge 27 people with money laundering, fraud and other crimes.

The document draws links between Gennady Petrov, the alleged leader of the criminal enterprise, and some of Putin’s oldest allies such as Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Viktor Zubkov, the chairman of gas exporter Gazprom.

The Russian president himself is mentioned three times in the complaint. But Vladislav Reznik is the only Russian official facing possible charges, according to Bloomberg News.

Reznik, a member of Putin’s ruling United Russia party and the deputy head of the State Duma finance committee, allegedly helped Petrov get his associates appointed to key positions in Moscow in return for assets in Spain.

Prosecutors are looking to seize a property the Russian lawmaker apparently owns on the resort island of Majorca. However, Reznik said his relationship with Petrov is “purely social” and would welcome a trial in Spain as an opportunity to clear his name, Bloomberg News reported.

Prosecutors said Petrov, a Russian businessman with Spanish residency, used his network of political and judicial contacts in Moscow to help him carry out criminal dealings from Spain, including murder, drug smuggling, arms trafficking, fraud and extortion.

An attorney for Petrov, Roberto Mazorriaga, told Bloomberg News that prosecutors have not yet provided any evidence to support their accusations against the alleged mafia boss.

“The Petrov probe could change the narrative of Putin in the West — from being a Stalinist tyrant defending the interest of his country to being a product of gangster Petersburg who united authorities with organized crime,” Stanislav Belkovsky, a Kremlin adviser during Putin’s first term who consults at the Institute for National Strategy in Moscow, told Bloomberg News Monday.

A guide to (mis)communication

Illustration by Shonagh Rae of a miscommunication between a man and a woman
In the UK, it is important to finish meetings by summing up key points; but in France they can end with an ambiguous ‘Et voilà!’

In recent months, a wry little document called the “Anglo-Dutch translation guide” has been tossed between the email boxes of bankers, diplomats, business people and journalists. This lists phrases that are commonly – and completely – misunderstood when English and Dutch people talk to each other.

Take the expression “with all due respect”. If you are British, you interpret this as a polite way to say, “I think you are wrong.” But if you are Dutch, used to blunt speech, you think it means, “You are listening to me!” Similarly, “That is an original point of view”: to English ears this subtly suggests “That’s a stupid idea!”; a Dutch listener thinks, “They like my ideas!” Or again, “I am sure it’s my fault” to British ears means “It’s not my fault”; to the Dutch, it’s quite the opposite.

So far, so amusing, and none of these examples will surprise any British or Dutch people who have ever shared an office. But what is fascinating is not simply that these linguistic gaps remain widespread today – but also how widely they tend to be ignored, in the office or anywhere else. For as the world becomes more global – “a starburst of interconnections . . . a hum of interconnected voices”, as Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, recently put it – it is easy to fall prey to the illusion that you can communicate with almost anyone in the seemingly neutral sphere of the internet. Particularly since so many companies use English as a lingua franca. But ironically, the more that institutions become globalised, using that lingua franca, the more these subtle distinctions in speech patterns matter.

To get a sense of this, it is worth taking a look at an amusing new book called The Culture Map by Erin Meyer, a professor at Insead business school. It draws on theories that Edward Hall, an American anthropologist, developed in the mid-20th century to interpret the dizzy network of modern cross-cultural (mis)communications.

The starting point is Hall’s observation – made after living among Navajo and Hopi native Americans for many years – that human speech varies depending on whether there is a “high” or “low” level of assumed shared cultural context. In the former, people speak with a narrower vocabulary and more ambiguous style, since they do not need lots of words to clarify their meaning; in the latter, vocabularies are far wider and the intentions of speakers are clearly spelt out.

Social groups can vary on this spectrum within a single culture (long-married couples have a high shared context). But different cultures vary radically too. Meyer thinks, for example, that the US, Australia, Canada and Israel have extreme “low-context” speech patterns, followed by the Netherlands and Germany. In those countries people are expected to speak clearly or they will appear dishonest, incompetent or simply ineffective.

But countries such as Japan, Korea, India, Singapore and France are “high context”. There is assumed to be a high level of shared knowledge and thus less verbal clarity: everyone just “reads the air”, as the Japanese say. Spain, Brazil and Argentina lie halfway between. The UK is deemed to be lower context than France but higher context than Holland. Hence that wry internet guide.

Interestingly, these distinctions persist even when everyone is speaking English. And Meyer argues that they affect numerous aspects of institutional life: how managers give feedback to their staff, exercise authority, express dissent or build trust. Thus in some countries it is normal to use “upgrader” (reassuring) comments when delivering criticism; in others, not. In places such as the US and UK, it is important to finish meetings by clearly summing up the key points; but in France meetings can just end with an ambiguous “Et voilà!”. “I couldn’t help wonder, ‘but voilà what?’” Meyer quotes a British investor saying after one such occasion in Paris. “My French colleagues simply know what has been decided without going through all the levels of clarification that we are used to in the UK.”

. . .

And the miscommunications worsen in mixed teams, with, writes Meyer, “Americans who recap incessantly and nail everything down in writing, Japanese who read the air, the French who speak at the second degree [with secondary meanings], the British who love to use deadpan irony as a form of humour and the Chinese who learn as young children to beat around the bush”.

Is there any solution? Meyer suggests managers at multinational companies should use matrix planners that plot the position of different cultures on the “context” spectrum, to help them interpret each other. She also argues that everyone needs to keep international communication ultra “low context” – ie to spell everything out, as clearly as you can.

But personally, as a British person who has been trained in a mid-context culture to use humour as a social weapon (and mask), I prefer a less direct route. Instead of rewriting HR policies, why not just stick that “Anglo-Dutch guide” on to the walls of all company offices? Better still, replicate it with others cultural pairs? (Anyone want to write the Brazilian-Saudi translation guide? Japanese-Israeli?) Maybe that would cause offence. But the best way to avoid communication pitfalls is to keep remembering they exist – and then laugh together about the fact that nothing sounds quite as peculiar as when the English speak English.

World’s most sustainable businesses revealed

The DJSI was established in 1999

Unilever, Siemens and Akzo Nobel are among 24 companies that have been topped their respective industries in the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) review.

The overall index, produced in collaboration with RobecoSAM, features 319 eco-conscious corporations. The 2014 edition saw 32 companies make their debuts, including British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, while 46 companies were removed, including Bank of America and General Electric.

Launched in 1999, the DJSI tracks the financial performance of leading sustainability-driven companies, based on analysis of economic, environmental, and social factors.

S&P Dow Jones Index Committee chairman David Blitzer said: “Both the importance and the understanding of sustainability has grown dramatically over the past decade and a half. During that time the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices have been established as the leading benchmark in the field.”

Growing influence

Unilever, Siemens and BT were also among the major companies recognised for being in the DJSI list for all 15 years of its existence.

RobecoSAM’s head of indices Guido Giesesaid: “Since 1999, we have helped investors realize the financial materiality of sustainability and companies continue to tell us that the DJSI provides an excellent tool to measure the effectiveness of their sustainability strategies.

“In 15 years, the total number of companies we assess has more than quadrupled.”


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