In a statement about the increase of mass detention and arrests of children in Mersin in recent months, Mersin Human Rights Association (IHD) Mersin Branch Chair Ali Tanrıverdi pointed out that jailed children were forced to confession under custody and to do all cleaning works in wards.
Stating that police practiced a special policy against children in neighborhoods densely populated by Kurds in Mersin, Tanrıverdi said that; “Police sees these children as the’ armed forces of the counter side’.
Tanrıverdi remarked that legal arrangements on stone throwing (anti-terror law victim) children, like in all the initiatives of the AKP government, were definitely used against children. Police, hunting children every day in neighborhoods densely populated by Kurds, attacks children with gas bombs and take them into custody when they see three children together, noted IHD Mersin Chair and continued as follows;
“Our union, besides approving the law enacted in 2010, proposed the amendment of this law which consisted of provisions that could be used against children. Almost all of 21 people who benefited from this law were again taken into custody and arrested for various allegations.”
Among 88 children who were taken into custody in Mersin in the first six months of 2011, 18 were sent to prison, notified Tanrıverdi and gave the following information about the recent figures of arrested children;
“This number has however continued to increase in the last six months. In the first eight months of 2011, a total of 123 children were taken into custody and among them 39 were arrested. As to the figure of the year 2011 in whole, 152 TMK victim children were taken into custody in Mersin, while 76 among them were arrested and sent to prison. Detained children aren’t allowed to see their families and additional detention time is asked for them as they are held at security directorates for 3-4 days. During the detention process, children are asked to identify the photos shown to them, they are applied pressure for giving information about some other children and they are forced to confession with threats of being remanded in custody in case of not giving information. Afterwards, arrests are performed on these statements of children almost all of whom are made up of students at elementary schools. On the other hand, the children who are released after detention or imprisonment are prevented from returning to their schools. Files of some children are not even shown to their lawyers on the pretext of confidentiality. The mistrust on judiciary is multiplied by the arrest of almost all of children who have been sent to court in the recent term.”
However, the main problem of children begins after the arrests, underlined Tanrıverdi and notified that the jailed children in Mersin E Type Prison were taken to Adana-Pozantı juvenile prison after being held in cells for many days until their number becomes high enough to fill a ring vehicle.
Pointing out that the applications made to IHD by the families of some children who are still held in Pozantı juvenile prison voiced highly worrisome developments and listed the violations of rights stated by families as follows;
– The prison administration delivers children two by two to the wards of judicial prisoners who are during the delivery given cipher messages like ‘these good children are turned over to you’. The administration connives at the pressure of judicial prisoners on children.
– As well as being subject to violence and sexual abuse, children are also made to do all cleaning works in wards including washing the clothes of other prisoners.
-The number of current prisoners in Pozantı juvenile prison is three times more than its capacity. Two to three children have to share the same bed, their demands for medical treatment are not met and they suffer insults while being taken to court for trials.
Underlining that most of the jailed children are aged below 15, Tanrıverdi indicated that the accusations prepared by prosecutors against children demanded imprisonment several times higher than their age on the grounds of being members and executives of an armed separatist terror organization. Tanrıverdi added that security forces regarded these children as the armed forces of the counter side.