Lawmaker Denies Torture in Prison, Mocks Bipartisan Report
A session in Parliament to discuss claims of mistreatment and torture in prison devolved into squabbles among lawmakers from different parties when a senior lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) outright denied findings of a Commission report documenting claims of widespread torture in jail.
Mehmet Metiner, head of Parliamentary subcommittee for Prisoner Rights, reiterated his earlier position and rejected a bipartisan report by Parliament Human Rights Investigation Commission about the widespread existence of torture during emergency rule.
There have been 9,147 applications made to the Commission by prisoners’ families and relatives over gross rights violations in prison. At least 3,228 applications were submitted to examine and stop torture experienced by prisoners, the Commission said in a session on Friday.
Commission President Mustafa Yeneroglu informed the media over applications and what has been done to review complaints by families of prisoners.
Despite the consensus by all other political parties, Mr. Metiner, AKP representative and the head of the subcommittee, steadfastly rejected the findings of the Commission report.
He even went on to claim that he never saw an incident of torture or mistreatment during his prison visits across Turkey.
When main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Agbaba urged the Commission to send a delegation of lawmakers to examine claims of torture in prison in the western province of Tekirdag, Mr. Metiner confronted him. “We just went that prison two years ago.”
When opposition lawmakers said two years ago is a long time frame and would not be an excuse for dismissing new visit to investigate claims, Mr. Metiner struck an unwavering conviction.
“Two years ago, three years ago, three months ago… Will you go to a prison where you carried out inspection and you receive a new letter two days later? That letter could be written over political motivations,” he said, questioning the authenticity and accuracy of the letters over the prison conditions.
In Tekirdag prison, Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), is being held.
“We have never encountered a bad treatment or torture claim in any prison we visited,” the AKP lawmaker said.
When HDP lawmaker Ayse Acar Basaran disputed his account and raised torture cases, Mr. Metiner declined to comment on torture.
He just berated his female colleague and called on her to stop using his name.
Last year, Mr. Metiner caused a public outrage when he said coup plotters better should kill themselves instead of waiting for a trial. He also said there would be no investigation into torture claims when the victims are from Gulen movement, a civil society group designated a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.
The government blames Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in self-exile in the U.S., for the attempted coup. Mr. Gulen and his supporters deny any charge linking them to the coup.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released detailed reports last year into the allegations of widespread torture in the post-coup era.