Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Torturer Sues Coup Generals for Making Him ‘a Monster’

by PATRICK COCKBURN

A former Turkish soldier, Dogan Eslik, is suing the generals who seized power in Turkey in a military coup in 1980 and tortured hundreds of thousands of people.

He claims his experiences in Ankara’s dreaded Mamak Prison dehumanized him, turned him into a monster, and have effectively ruined his life. He joins thousands of other complainants filing charges against those they hold responsible for torture and murder.

What makes Eslik’s legal action different from the others is that they are suing because they suffered torture while he is one of those who inflicted it.

Today he is full of remorse at his past career as a torturer. Claiming he was compelled by threats of being beaten himself, he says his emotional well-being has been permanently destroyed, he has received psychiatric treatment, and he was so traumatized he has never been able to marry.

Called up to do his military service, Eslik was made a prison warden in Mamak Prison in 1982 and received special training from officers in methods of inflicting pain.

He is filing charges against the retired Generals Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya, the leaders of the junta which staged the coup and established a reign of terror in Turkey at its most intense between 1980 and 1983.

“My reason for filing charges is because I was stopped by the junta from serving in the military,” Eslik told the Zaman newspaper. “They broke our mind, our will and made us beat inmates like animals.”

The history of barbaric punishments inflicted by the state on opponents continues to mark Turkish society. Of the four military coups since 1960, the most repressive was that of September 12, 1980. A quarter of a million people were arrested and tortured, according to Amnesty International, while Turkish human rights organizations say the true number is two or three times as great.

They list 37 different techniques used by the torturers including electric shocks, whipping of the feet, hanging by the arms and legs and the use of high-pressure water. Some 419 people are suspected of being tortured to death in custody across a decade and a half  after the coup and thousands more were maimed for life. Many disappeared and their bones are still being found in secret cemeteries.

Torturers have begun to admit what they did, though often claiming it was under duress.

One victim, Yasar Yildirim, recalls how the chief warden at Mamak ordered prisoners into the yard and set German shepherd dogs on them. “The torture lasted for 45 minutes,” says Yildirim. “What disturbed me most was the fact that the prison warden gave the order for the dogs to attack us as he was sipping his tea.”

With so many of the perpetrators and victims of torture still alive, memories of past repression add hatred and fear to contemporary Turkish politics. The army has not wholly abdicated its political role.

“Demilitarization will take a long time,” said Cengiz Aktar, professor of political science at Bahcesehir University. “It has taken 30 years in Spain which in many ways is similar to Turkey.”

A difference between the two countries is that in Turkey many are unconvinced that the brutal repression of the past is ancient history. Army generals are accused of plotting a coup as recently as 2009.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of  Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Andrew Sullivan
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Richard W. Behan
Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]