FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Torturer Sues Coup Generals for Making Him ‘a Monster’

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

More articles by:

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail