“I was subjected to severe torture. They threatened me, saying, ‘Either you will talk or you’re going to die.’ After they tortured me, they showed me to my wife. They said, ‘There’s no way out for you, your wife won’t leave here, either.’
They increased the dose of torture day by day. They threatened me by saying that they were going to rape my wife. They put a bag over my head. I couldn’t breathe. I started to think I was dying.”
These sentences belong to Mustafa K. (40), a Turkish teacher who was detained and tortured as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. Journalist Sevinç Özarslan interviewed Mustafa K. and wrote his horrifying story for online news outlet GriHat.
Mustafa K. and his wife’s heart-wrenching story is as follows:
Mustafa K. and Nilgün K. (37) had started teaching in 2013 at a Turkish school abroad. Mustafa K. was a social studies teacher.
He was both an administrator and a teacher at the same school. His wife Nilgün was a science teacher. The family had two children. Their son Mesut Ekrem (8) and daughter Büşra Gülsüm (12) were trying to adjust to their new life in a new county.
Just as they began to adjust themselves to their new life they were forced to return to Turkey in June 2015. Mustafa K.’s father had a brain hemorrhage and was paralyzed.
His mother was a schizophrenic. Mustafa K. rented an apartment in Ankara and brought his parents, who used to live in Sivas province, to his home. He was looking for work on the one hand and overseeing in his parents’ treatment on the other.
After five or six months, he found a job at an international company. However, because of a schizophrenic mother and a paralyzed father and their treatment at hospitals, they had lived a very difficult year as a family.
They were in the hospital on July 15, 2016, the day Turkey survived a controversial coup attempt because Nilgün K. was five months pregnant with her third child, Ali İhsan, who is now 1,5 years old. She had a difficult pregnancy and had to spend much of her time in the hospital as in her previous pregnancies.
Following the coup, the couple, who had taught in private schools for 17 years, decided to return to the country where they used to work as teachers.
They had guessed that a post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement would include them also. However, they were prevented from leaving and were detained by police on September 11, 2016, at Ankara Esenboğa Airport.
Mustafa K. had been denounced by an informant as being a member of the Gülen movement and as a person who was organizing religious conversations on behalf of the movement.
The couple was first taken to the Ankara Police Department then to the counterterrorism (TEM) branch. Mustafa K. was held in police custody for 30 days. He appeared in court on October 10, 2016, and released and put under house arrest because of the testimony he was forced to sign under police custody.
Nilgün K. was sent to court a few days after she was detained as she became seriously ill while in police custody. The court ruled to release her thanks to the state of her health.
However, Mustafa K. was tortured under police custody. He explained what he had experienced during his 30-day detention in a seven-page letter he gave to the court. He had experienced terrible ill-treatment and torture including violent beating, curses, harassment and keeping him naked, and even they had threatened him with raping his wife.
Mustafa K. explained what he had experienced in police custody in his letter as follows:
I was detained with my wife at Ankara Esenboğa Airport on 11.09.2016. First, they said to me that they would release my wife. But after we were brought to the Ankara Police Department, they said that if I didn’t say what they wanted, they would take my wife into custody also. They also said together with heavy insults that neither of us would get out of there alive.
“My wife was 5,5 months pregnant and had very serious health problems. During the period of her pregnancy, she had been treated at Ankara Özel Ortadoğu Hospital and Zübeyde Hanım Women’s Hospital.
Although we gave them this information, they did not listen to us. They insulted us and said: ‘The 5,5 months of pregnancy is nothing. All of you are terrorists. You will be punished for what you do.’ My wife was having a very difficult pregnancy. Most days she had to lie down and rest.”