An investigative journalist has exposed dozens of illegal acts committed by former Chief of Police Hanefi Avcı during his career and how he used a recently published book to misguide people over the reasons for his arrest.
Mehmet Baransu’s 447-page book “Mösyö: Hanefi Avcı’nın Yazamadıkları” (Monsieur: The Things Hanefi Avcı Couldn’t Write) landed on booksellers’ shelves only last week, but it has already created an immense impact on people’s understanding of one of the most heated topics in today’s Turkey:
the allegations Avcı made in a book he wrote a month before he was arrested and the terrorism offenses he has been accused of. So far, the book has sold some 35,000 copies. Rasih Yılmaz, editor-in-chief of the book’s publisher, Karakutu Publishing House, told Sunday’s Zaman there is an immense demand for the book, and that he expects it to sell 100,000 copies in a week, explaining, “Of 1,000 books published each year, only three or four books can achieve this.”
In the book, investigative journalist Baransu provides readers with official documents to prove the acts of torture Avcı committed in the early part of his career, the shady connections he later developed with the leftist terrorist organization Revolutionary Headquarters and the reason Avcı wrote a book, which was to avoid his expected arrest or to confuse people as to the motives of the police operation against him.
As Baransu notes in his book, the police launched a secret probe into the Revolutionary Headquarters more than a year before Avcı was arrested, on Sept. 28 of this year. Baransu says as the investigation deepened, Avcı felt personally insecure, fearing that he might also become a suspect and made a pre-emptive move by writing the book ‘Haliç’te Yaşayan Simonlar: Dün Devlet, Bugün Cemaat’ (Simons on the Golden Horn), published in August. In that book, Avcı gave some clues about the leftist terrorist organization but also targeted the faith-based Gülen movement, alleging that the adherents of the movement are systematically joining the police. For Baransu, these two unrelated chapters came together in the same book only because “targeting the movement [through developing similar conspiracy theories] always pays off in Turkey,” in effort to misguide people into believing the movement’s adherents in the police arrested Avcı because he disclosed their growth strategy.
Avcı also tried to create confusion (and succeeded to a certain extent) by providing information about a terrorist organization, implying -- how could he do this if he was a member. “It appears that Avcı -- as he always did throughout his career -- attempted to carry out a psychological operation here. In other words, he had the book published shortly before his arrest to link these two occurrences in people’s minds, as he was obviously aware of the investigation [into the Revolutionary Headquarters]. This is perhaps also the reason the chapter on the movement was hastily added to the book,” Baransu asserts in his recent work.
The Revolutionary Headquarters was an unknown terrorist organization to many until last year, when it clashed with the police in İstanbul, and a key figure in the armed group, Orhan Yılmazkaya, killed one police inspector and one civilian. He died in the clash, and the police found an immense munitions cache at his home. Later on, it was learned that he received training in Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) military camps. Currently, the leftist group is broadcasting numerous photos and videos showing Yılmazkaya during training, revealing the strong link between the two terrorist organizations. Police came to the conclusion that Avcı also had links to the Revolutionary Headquarters after detecting the controversial police chief’s strong connection to Necdet Kılıç, a key member in the leftist terrorist organization.
Torture mode of interrogation for Avcı
In his book, Avcı says, “Torture was the normal mode of interrogation till 1999 in Turkey.” The documents and eyewitness statements Baransu included in his book show that Avcı passionately adopted this method, particularly when he was working in the southern province of Mersin in the early 1980s. One of those torture cases Baransu narrates is related to the death of schoolteacher Ali Uygur, who was arrested on July 1, 1980, and later killed. According to an eyewitness “he was beaten to death while wearing a hood stuffed with a cat.” Despite the insistence of the victim’s family, the incident was never investigated because of the military coup of Sept. 12 of the same year. Baransu says Avcı is today also remembered in Mersin for threats he directed against other detainees interrogated later on. According to the allegation in the book, Avcı showed Uygur’s bloody shoes to detainees and said they would end up the same way if they did not talk.
Baransu revealed that Avcı was convicted for committing torture in 1984 at the 2nd Adana Martial Law Court and sentenced to one year in prison and removal from duty for three years. However, this court decision was overturned the following year by the 4th Chamber of the Military Supreme Court of Appeals. Another local court later acquitted Avcı simply because the three victims and the eyewitnesses were members of the same organization and were in the same prison after the 1980 coup. This decision completely ignored the health reports of the victims.