Voices of Turkey’s purged

Diego Cupolo reports: The night of July 15, Seda was at home in Erzurum, a town in eastern Turkey, when she got a call from her son, a student at a military academy in Ankara, the nation’s capital. Turkey was under attack, and he was being deployed with his classmates. His unit had been given rifles but no ammunition, he told Seda from the back of an army truck bound for the city center. Then he hung up.

Five days passed before Seda heard from her son again. This time, his message was relayed through a lawyer. Her son, the lawyer told her, was in Sincan high-security prison, just outside the capital, along with hundreds of others who had allegedly attempted to seize power from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in what would turn out to be a failed coup.

Seda told me this story as she stood among dozens of parents in a parking lot near the prison. Like her, they had come to visit their sons, who had been jailed for allegedly participating in the failed attempt to overthrow the government, and were now being held in a facility built for prisoners serving life sentences. “My son wouldn’t participate in a coup,” Seda said. “He was fooled and they are holding him without charge. It’s not right. None of this is right.”

The parents I spoke to at Sincan said they had been granted 30-minute visits with their children. They spoke anonymously — for fear of further endangering their sons — of ongoing interrogations, overcrowding, and abusive conditions like those that independent rights groups such as Amnesty International have also documented. [Continue reading…]

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