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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid