Updated: Apr 8
It has been revealed that Turkish teacher Gökhan Açıkkollu, who was tortured to death under police custody in the wake of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over alleged membership in the Gülen movement, was found innocent one-and-a-half years later and was reinstated to his job (!).
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has finally admitted to the innocence of the deceased teacher. The reinstatement decision, numbered E.2561776, for Açıkkolu was rendered by the Turkish Education Ministry on Feb. 7, 2018.
The official document for the reinstatement of Açıkkolu was delivered by the principal of the school he used to work for to Açıkkollu’s teacher wife, who had also been dismissed from her job by a government decree under the state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the coup attempt. Thus, the honor of the late Gökhan Açıkkollu was restored by saying a simple “pardon” one-and-a half years after his death.
Açıkkollu was detained on July 24, 2016 on trumped-up charges of coup plotting and terrorism and remained in police custody for 13 days, during which time he was subjected to both physical and psychological torture. He was never officially interrogated, and the police did not even take a statement from him.
Instead, he was taken from his detention cell every day to face torture and rushed to the hospital when his condition deteriorated, only to be shipped back to detention. He told doctors about the abuse and torture; yet, in some cases his statements were not even registered in the medical reports, and evidence of physical abuse was covered up under pressure from the police.
I am Gokhan | I was tortured to death by Turkish police
Açıkkollu was beaten, slapped in the face, kicked in the rib cage, kneed in the back and his head banged against the wall.
His medical check-up before he was put in detention showed no signs of any heart troubles; yet, he was pronounced dead due to heart failure.
When he collapsed in his cell, emergency services were belatedly called and he died in detention, although official records were doctored to reflect the false fact that he died at the hospital.
Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), emphasized in a report that Açıkkollu died of a heart attack due to the torture he was exposed to in detention.
His family had found out about his death when they were called to the İstanbul Institute of Forensic Medicine. The ill treatment of Açıkkollu continued here as well.
They were told that the funeral could be held on condition that he was buried in “a graveyard of traitors,” prepared by the Greater İstanbul Municipality for alleged “traitors,” despite the fact that he had not been tried nor even interrogated. Imams assigned by the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) refused to say a funeral prayer for Açıkkollu.
His family had to embalm the body themselves and was obliged to take him to his hometown in Konya province in their own vehicle. Here too, the imam of the local mosque would not perform the funeral prayer because of instructions from the Religious Affairs Directorate that the “funeral prayer will not be said for traitors.” So the last rites was also performed by his close relatives.