This is a new trans­la­tion of an arti­cle pub­lished in Turk­ish, denounc­ing the triv­i­al­iza­tion of tor­ture in Turkey, not to say its pro­mo­tion by groups and fac­tions with­in and out­side the State.

 Türkçe (Gazete Duvar) | Français | English

The author places these “acts of tor­ture against per­sons” in a con­text both of inter­na­tion­al and region­al war. He denounces the poros­i­ty between State vio­lence and that of fac­tions and groups that instru­men­tal­ize it to the point of mak­ing it com­mon­place, of jus­ti­fy­ing and legit­imiz­ing hor­ror as an acknowl­edged and nor­mal prac­tice against “the des­ig­nat­ed enemy”.

He men­tions a few cas­es ; we could com­plete the arti­cle with oth­ers, rang­ing from the staged mur­der of Hacı Lok­man Bir­lik (Eng­lish trans­la­tion to fol­low) as anoth­er instance, mov­ing on to the return of bar­bar­ic prac­tices in prison, and a num­ber of acts cov­ered by the notion of “war crime” (Eng­lish trans­la­tion to fol­low). Kedis­tan had pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished a denun­ci­a­tion of this kind of social­ly pro­mot­ed dis­tanc­ing from “the other’s corpse” (Eng­lish trans­la­tion to fol­low).

When an entire soci­ety is gan­grened by the notion that a domes­tic ene­my is act­ing like a can­cer on the social body, and when a State pol­i­cy jus­ti­fies the use of inhu­mane meth­ods and prac­tices against it, when it allows the unleash­ing of fac­tions on social plat­forms and in a part of the media, deper­son­al­iz­ing the ene­my as a “for­eign body”, the worst takes over and along with it, fear and division.

Just as the author of the arti­cle has done, we have cho­sen to spare you the pho­tos. How­ev­er, they are avail­able singly or in arti­cles, as irrefutable evi­dence. Fol­low the links.

İrf­an Aktan’s arti­cle was pub­lished in Gazete Duvar on Octo­ber 9 2017

Advertising for torture

Human­i­ty entered a new mil­le­ni­um with the pho­tos of the war sav­agery unleashed by the Unit­ed States in Irak, begin­ning in 2003. Fol­low­ing the occu­pa­tion, embed­ded jour­nal­ists pub­lished count­less pho­tographs, expos­ing how “Amer­i­ca showed its might” to the Irakis. Among the images those who tes­ti­fied on this peri­od will nev­er for­get, the first were the pho­tos of tor­ture in the prison of Abou Ghraib. The pho­to show­ing a group of naked pris­on­ers with bags over their heads, piled on each oth­er with two Amer­i­can sol­diers laugh­ing in the back­ground had raised seri­ous ques­tions then on the notion of humanity.

Con­cern­ing detainees, the “Istan­bul Pro­to­col” or as it is known in its com­plete des­ig­na­tion the “Man­u­al on the Effec­tive Inves­ti­ga­tion and Doc­u­men­ta­tion of Tor­ture and Oth­er Cru­el, Inhu­man or Degrad­ing Treat­ment or Pun­ish­ment” con­tains the fol­low­ing notice:

8. Sex­u­al tor­ture includ­ing rape
215. Sex­u­al abuse begins with forced nudi­ty which in many coun­tries is a con­stant fac­tor in tor­ture sit­u­a­tions. An indi­vid­ual is nev­er as vul­ner­a­ble as when naked and help­less. Nudi­ty enhances the psy­cho­log­i­cal ter­ror of every aspect of tor­ture, as there is always the back­ground of poten­tial abuse, rape or sodomy. Fur­ther­more, ver­bal sex­u­al threats, abuse and mock­ing are also part of sex­u­al tor­ture, as they enhance the humil­i­a­tion and its degrad­ing aspects, all part and par­cel of the pro­ce­dure. The grop­ing of women is trau­mat­ic in all cas­es and is con­sid­ered to be torture.

On Octo­ber 4 last, when pho­tos were served to the media of sev­en per­sons tak­en from a vehi­cle with a Mersin licence plate in the region of Sey­dike­mer, part of Orta­ca dis­trict at Mugla, naked and lying on their stom­achs on the road, with hands tied in their backs, there were many who made the con­nec­tion with Abou Ghraib (Cumhuriyet arti­cle in Turkish).

Although the envi­ron­ment is dif­fer­ent, the fact that these per­sons hands tied in the back, are lying on the ground naked and exposed in their most vul­ner­a­ble posi­tion, leads peo­ple to estab­lish a par­al­lel with anoth­er image imprint­ed in their mind.

Caricature of torture

On June 9 in Gevas, Van dis­trict, three vil­lagers were tor­tured, pho­tos of their blood­ied fea­tures were shared and applaud­ed by pro-tor­ture peo­ple, and once the “adver­tis­ing ben­e­fit” had been achieved, the inno­cent vil­lagers were sent home. (Evrensel arti­cle in Turkish)

In August, the tor­tur­ers showed their faces, this time in the vil­lage of Şap­atan at Şemdin­li where they tor­tured scores of vil­lagers. (Evrensel arti­cle in Turkish)

Where sys­tem­at­ic tor­ture is con­cerned, the Muğla affair takes top billing. There, anoth­er pho­to, show­ing the shame­ful prac­tice of tor­tured per­sons exposed naked on the road, was car­ried out in anoth­er area, and the pho­tos pub­lished by the authors them­selves. On anoth­er pho­to, behind a bench bear­ing the inscrip­tion “Sey­dike­mer City Hall”, we see four per­sons, hands tied in the back and their low­er clothes removed, squat­ting under the palm trees, their faces turned toward the wall. (Artı Gerçek  arti­cle in Turkish)

A satir­i­cal mag­a­zine is illus­trat­ed with a car­i­ca­ture of these tor­ture vic­tims in Muğla. This mag­a­zine caus­es much glee with Islamists – reveal­ing, in fact, the men­tal uni­verse of their own com­mu­ni­ty. In the draw­ing, four men are lying face down. They wear bras and panties bear­ing the flags of Israel, the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca and Ger­many, con­sid­ered as “ene­mies”. A per­son in civil­ian cloth­ing holds his nose and uses a stick to lift with dis­gust the panties bear­ing the flag of the YPG on the fourth vic­tim. (After all, treat­ing the flags of the Unit­ed States, Israel or Ger­many in this way would require more dar­ing!) The licence plate on the “req­ui­si­tioned vehi­cle” is also inter­est­ing. It reads “FG 1941”. Mean­ing Fethul­lah Gülen and his year of birth.

So many des­ig­nat­ed ene­mies crammed into a sin­gle car­i­ca­ture! The text has the tor­ture vic­tims say with a Kur­dish accent: “Hey, com­man­dant, you’ve spoiled the big show haa!”

Building public opinion through torture

No mat­ter who the vic­tim may be, tor­ture is a crime. Even the tri­bunals of the inqui­si­tion in the Mid­dle Ages had to “prove” the crime in order to be allowed to tor­ture the accused.

Even in Turkey, tor­tur­ers in the 90s went to great pains to hide their actions and their faces ; their lead­ers declar­ing every revealed case of tor­ture as an “iso­lat­ed inci­dent” in order to avoid respon­si­bil­i­ty for the crime. Today’s tor­tur­ers no longer want their actions to remain hid­den. They want their deeds to be known and make every effort to be expend­ed to that aim. Because by tor­tur­ing, they are attempt­ing to build up pub­lic opin­ion in their favor, drag­ging the pub­lic along toward hor­ror and thus increas­ing their own numbers.

When tor­ture becomes “adver­tis­ing mate­r­i­al” in a coun­try, this means the soci­ety has kneeled before it. And indeed, fol­low­ing the sys­tem­at­ic shar­ing of these images, “under­ground” orga­ni­za­tions have also begun pro­duc­ing this kind of “ad”.

In a short video pub­lished recent­ly, we see a man forced to wear a pink skirt and oblig­ed by at least two peo­ple from a very spe­cif­ic mafia group to shoot him­self in the leg. Accord­ing to the alle­ga­tions, this per­son was a mem­ber of the same mafia group. He is said to have “dis­hon­ored the bread he ate.”

Sev­er­al exam­ples exist that show how mafia fac­tions, as they begin to grow, imi­tate the dig­ni­fied and hyp­o­crit­i­cal stance of States. In order to increase their mem­ber­ship, they pre­tend to show com­pas­sion for soci­ety and the help­less while forc­ing their ene­mies, through hor­ror, to beg for mercy.

When there is no human dignity left, who will vanquish torture?

It is hard to imag­ine that the mafia groups pub­lish­ing these videos of tor­ture are not influ­enced by the sys­tem­at­ic pub­lish­ing on social medias of tor­ture prac­ticed by the State on per­sons it con­sid­ers as oppo­nents or threats. More­over, we must not for­get either that the “fem­i­niza­tion” of all the tor­tured ones, almost with­out excep­tion, encour­ages and illus­trates all at once, the vio­lences against women which have reached ter­ri­fy­ing proportions.

The fact of remov­ing their cho­sen vic­tims from their mas­cu­line iden­ti­ty, of “fem­i­niz­ing” them, of “neu­tral­iz­ing” them through humil­i­a­tions and phys­i­cal as well as psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture, of strip­ping them of dig­ni­ty and human­i­ty is a clas­sic of Mafia-like “law”.

What does the law say against this “Mafia law”?
Arti­cle 94 of the Turk­ish Penal Code is crys­tal clear on this topic:

1.Any pub­lic offi­cer who prac­tices on some­one acts that are incom­pat­i­ble with human dig­ni­ty and which inflict phys­i­cal or men­tal suf­fer­ing on the vic­tim, or that affect the person’s abil­i­ty to per­ceive or to act in an autonomous man­ner or that insults them, shall be pun­ished with a prison term of 3 to 12 years.
2- If the offense is com­mit­ted against: a) a child, a per­son unable to defend him­sef or her­self phys­i­cal­ly or moral­ly or against a preg­nant woman b) a pub­lic offi­cer or a lawyer in the exer­cise of his duties, the prison term shall be of 8 to 15 years.
3- If the offens­es are com­mit­ted in the form of sex­u­al abuse, the prison term shall be of 10 to 15 years.
4- Any per­son par­tic­i­pat­ing in the com­mis­sion of the offense will incur the same sen­tence as that of the pub­lic officer.
• Addi­tion­al clause added on 11.04.2013 (6459 S.K./9md) For this type of offense, the delay of lim­i­ta­tion does not apply.

Accord­ing­ly, the cur­rent peri­od may lend itself to tor­ture, but there exists no delay of lim­i­ta­tion for the crime of torture.

It should also be not­ed that, where the ban on tor­ture is con­cerned, the Turk­ish Penal Code draws no dis­tinc­tion between a “ter­ror­ist” a “guilty par­ty” or an “ordi­nary cit­i­zen”, it only uses the term “per­son”. The per­son, be it armed or your aver­age cit­i­zen”… Any pub­lic offi­cer who prac­tices on some­one acts that are incom­pat­i­ble with human dig­ni­ty and which inflict phys­i­cal or men­tal suf­fer­ing on the vic­tim, or that affect the per­son’s abil­i­ty to per­ceive or to act in an autonomous man­ner or that insults them, shall be pun­ished with a prison term of 3 to 12 years.”

While these laws, result­ing from strug­gles for human rights and which pro­tect human dig­ni­ty are inscribed in the Turk­ish Penal Code, those who by their prac­tices trans­form this Code into a floor mop aim at mak­ing human dig­ni­ty inde­fen­si­ble through the hor­ror gen­er­at­ed by their prac­tices. Because they know that, at the end of the hor­ror they gen­er­al­ize by adver­tis­ing the tor­tures they per­form, when there will no longer be a “per­son” to defend human dig­ni­ty, no one will be able to van­quish torture.

İrf­an Aktan

İrfan Aktan began in journalism in 2000 on Bianet. He has worked as a journalist, a correspondent or an editor for l’Express, BirGün, Nokta, Yeni Aktüel, Newsweek Türkiye, Birikim, Radikal,, He was the Ankara representative for IMC-TV. He is the author of two books: “Nazê/Bir Göçüş Öyküsü” (Nazê/A tale of exodus ), “Zehir ve Panzehir: Kürt Sorunu” (Poison and antidote: The Kurdish Question). He presently writes for l’Express, Al Monitor, and Duvar.
How the Toxic Patriarchy of War Plays out on Kurdish Women’s Bodies 

Illus­tra­tion : Zehra Doğan. Cizre, woman fight­er, killed and exhibed.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
*A word to English-speaking readers: in all instances where the original text is in Turkish or Kurdish, the English version is derived from French translations. Inevitably, some shift in meaning occurs with each translation. Hopefully, the intent of the original is preserved in all cases. While an ideal situation would call for a direct translation from the original, access to information remains our main objective in this exercise and, we hope, makes more sense than would a translation provided by AI…
Vous pouvez utiliser, partager les articles et les traductions de Kedistan en précisant la source et en ajoutant un lien afin de respecter le travail des auteur(e)s et traductrices/teurs. Merci.Kedistan’ın tüm yayınlarını, yazar ve çevirmenlerin emeğine saygı göstererek, kaynak ve link vererek paylaşabilirisiniz. Teşekkürler.
Ji kerema xwere dema hun nivîsên Kedistanê parve dikin, ji bo rêzgirtina maf û keda nivîskar û wergêr, lînk û navê malperê wek çavkanî diyar bikin. Spas.
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Por respeto hacia la labor de las autoras y traductoras, puedes utilizar y compartir los artículos y las traducciones de Kedistan citando la fuente y añadiendo el enlace. Gracias.
Auteur(e) invité(e)
Auteur(e)s Invité(e)s
AmiEs con­tributri­ces, con­tribu­teurs tra­ver­sant les pages de Kedis­tan, occa­sion­nelle­ment ou régulièrement…