Grup Yorum members tortured in custody, lawyer claims

September 18, 2012, Tuesday/ 17:02:00

A singer and a violinist with the left-wing band Grup Yorum claim they were tortured in police custody after they were detained during an unauthorized demonstration in İstanbul's Yenibosna neighborhood last week.

There were protests in front of the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) in Yenibosna on Sept. 14, staged by the family and friends of İbrahim Çuhadar, a Revolutionary People's Army Front (DHKP-C) militant who blew himself up in front of the Sultangazi Police Station on Sept. 11, killing an officer. The protesters were in Yenibosna to take Çuhadar's body from the ATK.

Grup Yorum vocalist Selma Altın and violinist Ezgi Dilan were among those taken into custody. According to a Taraf report on Tuesday, lawyer Taylan Tanay said police officers at the detention center, with full knowledge of who Altın was, kicked her in the ear, perforating her ear drum, which has led to significant hearing loss in her right ear. It is not clear whether the loss will be permanent. Tanay said there was an ATK report to support the allegation.

Violinist Dilan was repeatedly hit on the arms, Taylan said, and both women were handcuffed during the physical abuse that allegedly took place at the police station.

“They were kicked repeatedly by several police officers as they were being taken. The abuse continued inside the vehicle that belonged to the riot police. Selma Altın is the singer of Grup Yorum and the police knew this. One of them hit her in the ears repeatedly while she was cuffed, rupturing her ear drum. She can't hear out of her right ear at all.”

Lawyer Tanay said the purpose of the torture his clients endured was to prevent them from performing their art, which is also their primary source of income. He said the police had terrorized his clients, and that hitting people consistently to the ears was a unique and virtually unheard of act “reserved for Grup Yorum members only.”

Almost all of the protesters taken into custody were subject to police brutality, Tanay said. He noted that there has been a sharp increase in complaints of torture since Sedat Selim Ay, a police officer notorious for his maltreatment of suspects, was appointed deputy police chief of the Counterterrorism Bureau of the İstanbul Police Department.

The promotion of Ay, who has been convicted in several torture cases both domestically and at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), sparked widespread anger. However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly voiced his support for Ay.

“If the prime minister protects Sedat Selim Ay and his methods, this is what you get. This proves that the [government's] zero tolerance for torture policy was a hollow promise,” Tanay said.

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