Victim of enforced disappearance lost weight and in fear, says wife

Gökhan Türkmen, a Turkish national who was allegedly held in a torture center for 9 months after his abduction, met his wife for the first time recently. His wife Zehra Türkmen told about the meeting which took place in the presence of police officers.

The most damning rights violations perpetrated by the Erdogan regime against the Hizmet Movement, during the ongoing crackdown in which tens of thousands of members have been arrested, are the enforced disappearances.

Gökhan Türkmen, one of the about 30 people who were abducted by the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT), was handed over to the police after being tortured in a secret center for 9 months.

Months later, Zehra Türkmen met her husband face-to-face at the Ankara Police Department for the first time.

Zehra Türkmen described her impressions as follows:

“My husband was thinner than I expected. His hands were so white, which caught my attention the most. He was afraid. ‘Think about the children,’ he said constantly. Then he told me to withdraw our applications to international organizations and courts, such as the United Nations and the ECHR, and not to share anything on Twitter about his abduction. He said he didn’t want a lawyer. All those who were kidnapped and left were saying the same words to their wives. I said that I would not withdraw my applications.”

“There was one policeman in front of the door and two behind us when we were talking. We couldn’t talk very easily between three people.”

“‘Will you wait for me?’ my husband asked.’ Of course, I will,’ I answered. I said it won’t take much time, not as long as he expected. I explained that this is a political process. ‘No matter how many years, we’re here for you, don’t worry!’ I said.”

“My husband’s case was the first of the six abductions that occurred in February 2019. The other abductees were handed over [to the police]. There was no news from my husband. Frankly, I was scared that they harm him. Nine months later they told me my husband was alive.”

“I always thought before whether he was alive. Now, I am thinking about whether there is any scar on his hand, face, and body, or permanent damage. What is his mood? That’s my concern. But it’s good to know he is alive.”

“I stayed in prison for 9 months”

“One of my kids is 6 and the other is 11 years old. We did not tell my children that their father had been kidnapped. But my children have many problems such as biting their nails, excessive fear, lack of attention. My son can’t even go to the bathroom alone. We have been living this process for four years. I stayed apart from my children for nine months while I was imprisoned. I was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. My sentence has not yet been finalized at the Supreme Court.”

Legal struggle continues

“Now we have another struggle, the legal struggle. I’ll be a follower of this law process to the end. No matter what international courts it goes to, I will not quit ”

One person is still in the torture center

Gökhan Türkmen, who was abducted on February 7, 2019, is a chemist. Together with Turkmen, Yasin Ugan, Ozgur Kaya, Salim Zeybek, Erkan Irmak and Mustafa Yilmaz were abducted in February.

All of the abductees in February were handed over to the police after months of torture.

Yusuf Bilge Tunç, who was abducted in August, has not got away from the torture center yet.

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