Turkey: former NATO officer speaks of torture after failed coup

Turkey: former NATO officer speaks of torture after failed coup
By Gülsüm AlanDamon Embling
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Cafer Topkaya was recalled from Brussels as part of Ankara purge and jailed for around 16 months


More than 150,000 civil servants were purged after Turkey's 2016 failed coup. Officers at NATO bases were ordered back and many were jailed. 

One of them was Cafer Topkaya, recalled from Brussels. He's now back in Belgium after escaping while on release.

"My colleagues in the office told me it's a plot, they are trying to take you into a trap. But I said it might be true but since I am innocent, i have nothing to fear and besides i am an officer I have to obey orders," he recalled to Euronews.

"The police were very violent"

After a meeting in Ankara, Cafer says he was arrested and taken to a makeshift detention centre.

"I was taken to a gymnasium that was turned to a detention centre after the coup attempt. Maybe you have seen pictures of it," he said.

"There were hundreds of naked people, officers, lying on the ground in that gymnasium. I was brought there, there were almost more than 100 people in it there. It was 13th of October. There were all high level government officials, journalists, politicians, bureaucrats, and some military attaches who where also ordered to return to Ankara like me and arrested there."

Cafer continued: "The police were very violent, they were always threatening, shouting, swearing, saying bad words and doing inhumane treatment. There were some people there who were already tortured. 

"There were some bloody bandages in the corners and under the seats of the gymnasium, you could see it everywhere. There were mattresses for sleeping during the night on the ground, they were all covered with blood."

Little family contact

Days later, he was sent to a prison - and spent around 16 months in jail, where he had little contact with his family.

"There were three ISIS members living in the next room," said Cafer, "We could talk with them through the wall. He said he was allowed to call his family in Germany but I wasn't allow to call my family in Brussels. I could only send a letter after two months to my wife."

Turkey's failed coup left hundreds dead and wounded. The media was also hit after it - with 170 outlets shutdown. More than 150 journalists are still thought to be in prison.

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