Freedom from Torture - Torture in Turkey - the fear that overshadows Ronai's life

Torture in Turkey - the fear that overshadows Ronai's life

Police fire teargas at demonstrators in Istanbul.

President Recep Erdogan of Turkey is now on a state visit to the UK. Over the years, Freedom from Torture has seen hundreds of clients from Turkey and we have documented the unceasing pattern of torture over the Erdogan years. 

This is one man's story.   

Ronai* is a young man from a farming family living in Kahramanmaris Province in south-east Turkey. He had been supportive of, although not deeply involved with, a Kurdish political party. In 2011, when he was 18, during celebrations for Newroz (Kurdish New Year) he was seized by police. During the arrest he was beaten with batons, handcuffed and blindfolded.

At the police station his blindfold was removed, he was stripped to his underpants and locked alone in a small dark cell. He was kept there for three days, during which time he was beaten, sprayed with cold or hot water from a high pressure hose, tortured with electric shocks, stabbed with burning cigarettes, and his thighs cut with broken glass. His ankles were tied with rope and he was suspended upside down and beaten while suspended.

He was verbally abused and his family and Kurdish origin were denigrated. He was occasionally given drinking water but no food. He wasn’t allowed access to washing or toilet facilities. As there was no bed he would try to sleep while sitting on a chair and resting his head on the table. However, his sleep was intermittent as police officers would frequently wake him.

When he was released he was “covered in blood” and had many cuts, bruises and burns. After reaching home he spent three days in bed.

On release he had been told by police that he should not take part in any further political or Kurdish cultural activities. Even so, he was required to attend a police interview the following year as he had been reported as wearing a scarf in the colours of the Kurdish flag. On this occasion he was not tortured but he was threatened with detention and torture and told his family’s safety was at risk.

The detention and torture had been a terrifying experience for Ronai and the fear overshadowed his life. When in early 2014 gendarmes came to his house with a warrant for his arrest, his family feared for his safety, and supported him to move to Istanbul, and later, after he had been threatened by security forces there, to the UK.

He arrived in the UK in 2014 and sought asylum. His case is continuing. Luckily, he has family here who have been able to house and care for him and he receives therapy at Freedom from Torture.

Even so, he is deeply depressed, has flashbacks, hallucinations of his torturers and nightmares – symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He finds it difficult to speak or interact with people, even family members. His life has shrunk to a few square metres. What keeps him going is the support of his family, in London and at home in Turkey.

* not his real name.






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