News / Europe

    Phone Hotline in Turkey Helps Victims of Police Violence

    Turkish riot police try to stop ethnic Uighurs from marching to the Chinese Consulate during a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 21, 2011.Turkish riot police try to stop ethnic Uighurs from marching to the Chinese Consulate during a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 21, 2011.
    x
    Turkish riot police try to stop ethnic Uighurs from marching to the Chinese Consulate during a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 21, 2011.
    Turkish riot police try to stop ethnic Uighurs from marching to the Chinese Consulate during a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 21, 2011.
    Dorian Jones
    While most countries in the world have a telephone number to call police in an emergency, an emergency telephone line has been launched in Istanbul for victims of police violence. The European Union had praised Turkey's government for cracking down on torture by police, but concerns are now growing that those reforms are sliding.

    Istanbul lawyer Taylan Tanay is taking the latest call of the city's police-violence hotline. The Imdat Polis, or "Help, Police," initiative offers a 24-hour free legal service to any victim of police violence.

    In emergencies, a lawyer is immediately dispatched to the scene. Tanay said the hotline was set up by the Progressive Lawyers Association in response to a string of highly publicized incidents of police violence in the city.

    He said lawyers in Turkey are aware of widespread violence by the security forces. He said they always knew about abuse in the prisons and police precincts, but now there is an increase of attacks against people in the streets.

    A video recording on a mobile phone in June shows policemen beating a man in Istanbul in front of his family. It graphically highlights the problem of police violence and gave birth to the hotline.

    Tanay said more people increasingly are coming forward. He said people are recording such violence with phone cameras, and witnesses are prepared to speak out. Along with media reports highlighting police violence, he said they can successfully bring cases against the police.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the claims of growing police violence as "black propaganda." He points to the Turkish government having won plaudits from the European Union for its policy of zero tolerance on torture and introduction of reforms, including cameras in police stations, as part of its membership bid to the 27-nation bloc.

    With Ankara's bid currently stalled, however, analysts say claims of rising police violence could be an indication that progress on this front may be waning.

    The hotline has been busy since its launch last month. In the first week it received 80 calls, four of which were deemed emergencies.

    One of them was taxi driver Serkis Yogurtcu, who explained what happened.

    He said the police were called to his house because of a domestic dispute with his wife. He was standing outside the house and police immediately handcuffed him from behind and then beat him. He said he then was taken to a side street near the police station where they again beat him, kicking, punching and using batons.

    It was Yogurtcu's wife who called the hotline. On receiving the call, a lawyer immediately went to the police station. The hotline lawyers say a fast response is necessary in such cases, not only to prevent any further mistreatment, but to ensure doctor and forensic reports are compiled correctly. They claim in many cases that the reports can sometimes disappear.

    It is not, however, only individual cases of police violence with which the hotline deals.

    Last month, protesting textile workers called the hotline. For Suke Erdem, it was a painful lesson that lawyers are not exempt from violence.

    She said she arrived and identified herself to the police. Many knew her already from meeting her at various police stations. But, she said, within minutes of arriving they attacked the workers using gas and batons. Then police beat her to the ground and kept hitting her, breaking her arm and two fingers.

    Edam said the incident has not discouraged her from working for the hotline and that she has opened a case against the police.

    Hotline lawyer Tanay said the group has received threats from people claiming to be police officers, but he added the police are cooperative and polite when they visit the stations.

    While talking with Tanay, the hotline rang again, and this time it was from police. Rather than a threat, it was congratulations for the service and a question about whether the lawyers could help with legal problems regarding their superiors. Tanay answered "of course."

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora