Kurdish writer Meral Şimşek tortured with strip search by police in Greece

Kurdish writer Meral Şimşek tortured with strip search by police in Greece

  • Date: July 10, 2021
  • Categories:Rights
Η κούρδισσα συγγραφέας Meral Şimşek βασανίστηκε με γυμνή σωματική εξέταση από αστυνομικούς στην Ελλάδα

Kurdish writer Meral Şimşek tortured with strip search by police in Greece

Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair and lawyer Eren Keskin says that Greece committed a grave international crime against humanity and announced that they will apply to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kurdish writer Meral Şimşek has announced that she was detained by the Greek police on June 29 while she was crossing from Turkey into Greece and that she was subjected to strip search.

According to Şimşek, she was battered for hours even though she said that she is facing charges in Turkey for “terror propaganda” and “organization membership” and that she is a member of the PEN.

Şimşek says that both she and Dicle, a Syrian woman detained alongside her, were harassed by the Greek police. Moreover, the computer, mobile phone and a high amount of money they had with them were seized by police and they were thrown into the Evros River 24 hours later.

When they entered Turkey again on the coast of İpsala, Şimşek was arrested on the grounds that she had violated the international travel ban. Şimşek has been released after spending 8 days behind bars.

Put on trial on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” and “being a member of a terrorist organization” in Turkey, Şimşek is a prominent writer who has national and international prizes.

Noting that her Kurdish poems were published in the 2021 poetry anthology in Greece, Şimşek says:

 When it is okay for them, they use my poems; but they could send me back to this country where I am tried and arrested due to my thoughts. To top it all, after hours of battery, detention, strip search, harassment…

‘We got stuck in a swamp for hours’

Şimşek has also a medical report issued, documenting the battery. She recounts the incident as follows:

“On June 29, at around 8 pm, I crossed the Evros River. I walked for one and a half hours. I met a woman named Dicle on the way. As far as I know, they have sent her to a refugee camp now.

“We set off, we crossed the Evros. As soon as we crossed the river, we walked for one and a half hours. The Greek border police started to come behind us. We managed to evade the Greek police 17 times.

“Then, we came to a forestland, we fell into a swamp there. We waited in that swamp for hours together with Dicle.

“We apparently found ourselves in a wild area. Lawyers sent us the location, saying, ‘You need to head to Ferez.’ We were escaping from foxes and boars. In the meantime, we were seeing the deportation soldiers and escaping from them, too. We were told, ‘Don’t get caught by them, they will deport you immediately.’

‘They searched even our vaginas’

“As the remaining 8 or 10 people, we came to the main road. A Greek police vehicle came in the meantime. We got happy. Because we were told, ‘If the deportation soldiers come, they will torture you.’ As the police came, I told them about my situation so that they could help.

“I told them that I am a PEN member and that there are court cases against me in Turkey. And we had been walking for 15 hours, we were hungry. We had not drunk water. We were in a miserable condition. They took our ID cards and reported them somewhere.

“Lawyers were trying to contact us. Another police vehicle came at that moment. All of a sudden, there were so many police officers. They stripped us stark naked there and did a strip body search.

“They looked even in our vaginas. We were harassed right there. Our phones were constantly ringing in the meantime. They were holding our phones. Probably after seeing this, they brought a larger vehicle, without a license plate. They put us in that vehicle.

‘I thought they would kill, throw us into water’

“The vehicle smelled blood, there were blood stains everywhere. They had apparently carried several people like this. Urine and human excrement was everywhere. I was thinking to myself, ‘They will bring us to a deportation center and the lawyers will take us from there.’

“We were going on rough terrain. The driver changed twice in the meantime. At that moment, I thought to myself, ‘They are gonna kill us.’ They drove us for at least an hour, they stopped somewhere.

“Someone spoke Turkish here. They made us get off. When I looked around, I saw that we were on a riverside. There were officials around us, with or without masks. I thought that they would kill us and throw us into the water. I tried to explain my situation in Turkish. I started to beg, saying, ‘What you do is a violation of rights, don’t do this. They will sue you in Turkey.’

‘I was stripped searched in Edirne Prison as well’

“The moment I said this, they started to batter me with buttstocks. I was horribly beaten. They threw Dicle into a boat. There were two Black people on the boat. They were looking at us in fear.

“They did not give us our shoulder bags back but threw our backpacks into the boat. They threw me to the boat, too. I resisted and they threw me into the water. I saw the soldiers of Turkey on the other side.

They took Dicle in the boat. I was trying to swim across. Then, Dicle took me to the boat. That was how we landed on the coast. We turned ourselves in to the soldiers there.

“Dicle does not know Kurdish, I told them about her situation. İpsala Border Post took us. They arrested me there for violating the international travel ban and sent me to the Edirne Prison.

Violations of rights

“I heard that Dicle was sent to a refugee camp. They did a strip search on me when I went to the Edirne Prison.

“The prison was in a miserable condition. It is a 200-year prison and conditions are horrible. They put me in with the women arrested on charges related to the ‘Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)’.

“They do not want their names to be disclosed. But almost all of them were subjected to strip search several times before. The 15-year-old child of one of the women was rear-handcuffed. While one of them was undergoing a strip search, she had her child with her.

“After I stayed in this prison for 8 days, I attended the hearing held by the court in Malatya via the Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS). It released me on the condition of giving signatures 3 times a week.”

Keskin: We will apply to the ICC

Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair and lawyer Eren Keskin says that Greece committed a great international crime against humanity:

“The situation of Meral indicates a problem with two aspects:

“On the one side, she was subjected to great pressure in the region alongside her family. She was subjected to police violence, harassment and abduction. She is now standing trial on charge of propaganda because of her thoughts. She is a literary figure, an artist.

“She also has a cardiac disease and a problem with her lungs. She left her two children behind and fled Turkey just to avoid staying in prison.

“On the one side, it is horrible. They take away a person’s life because of her thoughts. On the other side, you flee to a geography deemed the cradle of democracy and you are subjected to the same treatment there. You see that states and police organizations are not any different.

We will access the reports in İpsala. There are reports documenting the battery. Then, we will apply to the International Criminal Court (ICC). We will apply to the United Nations (UN). Greece committed a grave crime against humanity.