Marxist Leninist Revolutionary Ayten Öztürk, who was handed over by Lebanon to Turkey, and then tortured for 6 months by the Turkish Counter-Guerilla, has sent a letter explaining what she went through. We’ve translated the letter, please see below….
Hello,I received your cards and warm greetings from you within the last month. Thank you so much. Even a salute is an ointment to my wounds, the power for my heart. I hope your health is good.
I’m much better. My treatment continues. There are some drugs that I use now; but the love of my comrades, rather than medicine, is healing me quicker. There is no new development in my legal process. I was jailed for no reason. I’m sure you’re wondering what I went through from the beginning. Let me first explain by who and how I was detained;
On 8 March 2018, I was taken into custody at Lebanon Airport and taken to the Lebanese Police Department. I was detained for a week at the Lebanese Police Department. Even though I told the Lebanese authorities that I am a revolutionary, and that I wage an anti-imperialist struggle, they gave nformation to the Turkish Consulate. A person from the Turkish Consulate came and said that they wanted to meet with me. They tried to get information about me from the Lebanese Police.
On 13 March, the Lebanese police officers handcuffed me, grabbing me and covering my eyes. When I asked where I was being taken, they said; “From here to a better place,“. I was then put inside a car. After about half an hour, they pulled me out of the car and opened my eyes. Then I realized we were at the airport. It was a quiet side of the airport. There were no people from the public. My my eyes were covered and a sack was put over my head by people who’s faces I couldn’t see, they handcuffed my hands behind my back. They pushed my head down hard and forced me onto the plane, like they were in a hurry. I heard the voice of a Turkish speaking person on the plane. They didn’t say who they were or where I was being taken. I guessed I was being kidnapped to Turkey and my guess proved correct.
I was brought to Turkey from Lebanon after about a 1 hour journey. When I was being taken off the plane, I started to shout the slogan of “Human Dignity will win Torture!”. Because of this they taped my mouth shut and closed it using their hands. As my eyes were closed, I couldn’t see what the torture centre looked like.
As soon as I entered they took my clothes off very quickly and threw me into a padded room.
About a month later, they began to open my eyes inside the cell. Before this, my eyes were tied and my hands were handcuffed. When I opened my eyes, I saw the place where I was. The cell was about 1.5 x 2m in size. Each side was covered with a gray carpet. The floor was a little softer. The floor hardened as a result of sitting down for 24 hours a day. The inside of the cell was watched by a camera for 24 hours. There were two opposing walls with ventilation. The place where the air was given was round and sized as wide as a plate.
I was subjected to physical and psychological torture here for six months. For a long duration in the cell, my hands were handcuffed behind my back and a sack was put over my head, with a mask over my eyes. Therefore I could not breathe comfortably and had difficulty moving my arms. I started a hunger strike since I was detained in Lebanon on the 8th of March. They were trying to break my resistance by giving too little or no liquid at all. They tied my arms and legs, forcibly giving me serum.
Because I continued my hunger strike despite the serum they injected into me, they started to put scented foods inside my cell. After the second month of the hunger strike, they took me to the torture room with the mask over my eyes and my hands handcuffed. From the distance between my cell and the torture room, I realized that this place was where I was questioned by psychological torture every day. During the days of psychological torture, they kept saying “There is no honour, no decency, no dignity here. These are left outside. If you don’t talk to us, you can’t leave. This state lifted a plane for you…”. But this time they began to torture me physically so that I can forcefully eat food. They spread my arms apart and handcuffed them to the iron rings on the wall.
Later on, while someone was supplying electricity with a device, the other tried to feed food with rough beatings and profanity, and also tried to make me drink nourishing liquid. They done this torture for days too. While doing these tortures, they were saying; “This place doesn’t look like anywhere else. This is the bottom of hell. There will be no freedom for you from here.” I understood that this was the centre of the counter-guerilla. All their troubles were to make me dishounourable by making me talk, to distance me from my revolutionary identity and my values.
No matter what they did, I said that I would never talk, and after a while they began to torture me physically. Stripping me naked and suspending me; they said “Are you going to talk?”, I said “No” and then they would give electricity to various parts of my body with a device. They gave electricity every day for about 20 days of torture. Apart from the electricity given to my body by pressing the device against my skin, a metal latch was taped to my little finger and my toes and this was electrified also. It made my whole body shake.
While doing these, they would pull my hair and hit my head against the wall. “Remove those thoughts in your head. Take out whatever’s motivating you! For whom, for what are you resisting? You will die and go from here. Nobodies soul will hear, no one will care. Nobody knows you’re here. We only have God here and ourselves. Whatever we say happens. The only way to get out of here is not to get in here at all” they would say.
They were trying to keep me on my feet at all times, except for the physical torture sessions. They kept me on my feet in the cell and in a coffin-shaped compartment for hours. Therefore, severe swelling and edema occurred on my feet and legs. Physical torture hours were mostly made at night. I estimate that it was after 22.00
The reason I could estimate the days and the hours was that I followed the date from the first day I was detained. The cell door was opened at certain times; 3 times a day for the toilet. That’s why I could estimate the hours. I could also guess the time from the sounds coming from the ceiling that I was sure were during the office hours. They were using many different torture methods to prevent me from thinking right, to demoralize, to create a sense of nothingness and loneliness.
For example; they were giving very cold or very hot air for hours into the cell. At night they were trying to make me sleep less, they were trying to make me tired. “Are you not tired? Say you’re tired, say you want to go to your cell, we will take you to your cell.” Sometimes they would torture me to make me say my name or say I’m tired. They would whip, bat, and stamp on my swollen legs, they would hit them with truncheons. They were also whipping the soles of my feet. They held me in the air holding my nipples firmly. They would harrass me with a truncheon, bat, and their fingers for several minutes. They would also threaten me with rape.
They were threatening me with removing my fingernails by placing a needle-like cutter underneath them. Therefore, three of my fingernails developed bruising and decay. They would use pliers on my toes, saying; “Do you want us to cut off your toes, are you going to talk?” They were trying to drown me by spraying pressurised water to my head with the sack over it. They would keep a spotlight on towards my eyes for several minutes.
From time to time they would open my eyes to try to convince me to collaborate. Some of them were in black clothes and black ski masks. I could only see their eyes. Sometimes there were two or five people in the torture. It could have been more. They were split into two different groups, those who took part in the psychological part of the torture, and those who would take part in the physical side of the torture. In the verbal, so the psychological side of the torture, they would see some of the people as “those responsible for me” (as in responsible for the torturers) and would call them “brother”. The people who they called “brother” were playing the “good” role. And they would try to force me into collaborating by saying that if they called the people named as “brother”, the torture would end. When I kept saying “I’ll never talk” they would say “then the torture continues”. They would turn me upside down for a while. They threatened to give me chemicals. They suddenly gave me an injection. But it didn’t make any impact on me.
Two separate torturers slapped my face for several minutes, causing my face to swell, and my nose to bleed. I had a balance problem for days after these slaps and kicking. I felt dizzy and pains all over my body. They said to me; “You won’t be like your family. They will not hang your picture on the board as a martyr”. They kept saying “your resistance is for no reason” and that “nobody is looking for you, your friends have cut their hope because you have not been around for such a long time. We have unlimited power here. There’s no time-period here. We’ll hold you as long as we want. You can’t get out of here. We will not kill you; But we will make death happen every day. We’ll do the torture for a while, then we’ll take a break and we’ll treat you up and we’ll torture you again. Step by step, different methods and increasing pain. Welil continue the torture. If necessary we have the equipment to make organ transplants…”.
Since I thought that the time I was there would be quite a long while, I set up a daily schedule and set rules in my head. I arranged the daily timeframes according to the opening and closing times of the door. I programmed what to think and what to produce. I tried to break the isolation I was in. My martyrs, my captives and all my loved ones were with me. I got power from them. At every moment, my martyrs Ahmet (brother), Hamide (sister) and Gülseren (Yazgülü) were with me. They were in my brain and in my heart.
As they were threatening to tape my mouth shut, I was shouting slogans and singing marches from inside. My slogans; “Human dignity will overcome torture” “I’m going to die, but I’ll never talk. “To the end, forever, until my last breath” “Welcome Death, Long Live Victory” “I’m going to win!” I would shout these slogans every day at a time I set, and I was saying all the songs I knew from Grup Yorum. Sometimes I would sing folk songs.
I tried to keep my memory alive with word games. I was trying to remember the names of the books I read, the content, and the movies I watched. Each of them gave me power. Every day I would commemorate three martyrs. I started with those who I knew personally and then continued with those whos names I knew. I had a cornerstone to the lies and threats the torturers were saying. “Think the opposite of what the enemy says and do the opposite”, “Know yourself, identify the enemy, become invincible”, “Freedom is not demanded; it is won by resisting by all costs”.
They always wanted me to ask them for something. When I say that I have no demand; They would say, “You don’t want freedom either?” I knew they’d want something in return from me if I was to ask for something. They wanted to degenerate, to dehumanize me. “I preferred to die with my dignity rather than to live without”. I was not leaving scientific thinking, the dialectical materialist idea 4 + 3. I didn’t know fear; it was a sensation growing from the darkness. But for me, those who did the torture were not so much known. Historically, all the powers that are unjust and powerless, all persecute, torture, and want to destroy what is not theirs. And those who resist persecution are always winners.
I was placing in a place in my mind that “Fear is defeated by knowledge and courage, the superior of moral and political superiority is ideological power” And I wasn’t quitting this power by not speaking. Anything can be done to my body, but never to my soul and my brain. Nothing can win an ideology that has won death. I was willing to die there.
If I was to die there, I would certainly win the victory. Because I wasn’t going to give anything they wanted. I guess I was continuously tortured for about twenty days from the end of July until the middle of August. One day they opened my eyes in the torture centre; “We’ll give you a mirror, look at your face, but don’t be afraid,” they said. Every side of my face, around my eyes, my forehead beyond the bruise, was blackened, I wasn’t scared! They were scared. They were too scared to show their faces.
At that time I saw that there were wounds and bruises all over my body. They tried to treat me when they realized that I was going bad. They used serum and also covered my body in cream. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t close the wounds in my body. I estimate that my treatment lasted for twenty or twenty-five days. And even during the torture they continued to apply the cream to the wounds and would continue the torture.
The torturer which they called “Doctor” was also masked. They treated in a place like a Sick Bay. They said they would start the second session of torture after the treatment and that it would be more severe. And every day they got the same answer from me. “I will not talk!”
They said, “Let’s see how long a revolutionary like you will endure this.” Then they openly offered co-operation. They said “As much money as you want, the right to live with people you want wherever you want, a different identity… “. After the torture, they only asked me to establish dialogue. When they realized they would no longer get results, one of the people they called “brother” said that my time there was full and that they would send me to the prison. This is exactly what he said; “Dont think of something different. We’re handing you to justice. You’re going to rot in jails.” Then they covered my eyes and tied my hands with a plastic handcuff from behind. I was then put into a car.
After about an hours drive, they left me in an open field, opening my eyes and untieing my hands very quickly, they then drove away in a hurry. After 2-3 seconds, Ankara TEM police took me away, saying that “There is a notice about you” . After four days of detention, I was jailed and brought to the Sincan Women’s Prison.
When we evaluate why the Lebanese government handed me over and why I was tortured for six months in an “unofficial place”, also known as a counter-guerilla centre, we get the following results:
Lebanon is the servant of imperialism and the AKP. A state which has fallen for AKP’s Middle East policies. I believe that they do not know much about the Revolutionary history and the Revolutionaries of Turkey. It is still unclear as to why they delivered me to Turkey and what they got in return. But the Lebanese government has committed a serious historical crime by delivering me to fascism in Turkey and making me endure 6 months of torture. The Lebanese government must immediately confess to its crime and abandon cooperation!
I was tortured in a “counter-guerrilla centre” for six months, the target is to create fear in the people and in the revolutionary-democratic opposition. They wanted to test the revolutionary will. To give the message that “We can bring revolutionaries from anywhere in the world” and to show their power.
However, nothing can destroy a revolutionary enclosed in homeland and comrade love. It is a duty to do revolutionarism in a country like ours. It is also a natural duty to resist the tortures of fascism, which are constantly attacking the people and the revolutionaries, because of it’s inability to manage. Anyone who decides to resist will find their own power supplies under those tortures. The cowards are torturers who are powerless and helpless. Those who wanted to create despair in the public and revolutionaries were met with longing for hatred-rage and justice. They couldn’t reach their goals!
Because we take our strength from our strong ideology and our historical righteousness. Six months later, when I was jailed and reunited with my friends, I was born again. I said “We won again!”. Whilst I was living the honour of being worthy of my great family and my comrades, I thought that all the pain would lighten once justice finds it place.
The fact that I was jailed without any concrete rationale after the torture was just one example of the size of the injustices and fascism in our country. My friends in my cell counted the wounds on my body. And they said I have 898 (eight hundred and ninety-eight) wounds. I have at least 898 reasons to raise my years of struggle. Even if the torturers hide seven times below the ground, they will not be able to run away from giving an account to the people.
Dear F, I have summarized my experiences. I send the greetings of my friends beside me; Elif, Gonul and Buket. Take care.
Sincan Kapalı Kadın Hapishanesi
Sincan / ANKARA