Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Translar hastaneye alınmaz, cesetleri otobanda bırakılırdı” (“Trans people were not taken to the hospital, instead, their bodies would be dumped on the highway”) T24, 11 October 2014, http://t24.com.tr/haber/translar-hastaneye-alinmaz-cesetleri-otobanda-birakilirdi,273578
Forty-year-old LGBTI activist H.Y. described the brutality that the police inflicted on transgender women at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters at the end of the ’90s.
Leaving her family when she was 14 years old, H.Y. had no choice but to engage in sex work in order to survive. In 1996, when she was 17 years old, H.Y. was taken into custody while performing sex work out of necessity in Merter, and underwent torture for a week at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters.
Currently 40 years old, LGBTI activist H.Y. told T24 about the oppression and torture that the police perpetrated against transgender women. Stating that police torture was systematically perpetrated against trans women sex workers for a period lasting from 1996 to 1999, she said, “The police would dump our dying friends on the highway and leave.”
Explaining that during the time she engaged in sex work in Merter she and her friends were frequently subjected to police brutality, H.Y. described those days as follows:
“While we were in Merter, the police would want to arrest us, and we would flee. They had cudgels in their hands and would throw them at our feet so that we would trip. The cudgel would land around our feet and we would trip. In fact, many of our friends died because of this. On the highway, cars would run over trans women. The police would dump our dying friends there and leave.”
‘They would bastinado us and make us tread on pure salt’
While performing sex work in Merter, H.Y. was taken into custody. Describing the torture that she experienced while in custody, she said, “In 1997, in a corridor at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters, they lined us up and stripped us naked. For a whole week we were bastinadoed, made to tread on pure salt, and suspended from a hook. This torture lasted a week. They gave us neither food nor water. They did not even let us go to the toilet.”
Hortum Süleyman [Süleyman the Hose]
When it came to the torture of trans women at the end of the ’90s, the first name that came to mind was the Beyoğlu District Police Chief, Süleyman Ulusoy, nicknamed “the Hose”. However, stating that there was police brutality even before Ulusoy, H.Y. said, “As for Suleyman the Hose, he thought of Ülker Street as his own home. He systematically inflicted violence on transgender women who lived on that street and took pleasure in it.”
‘He got a kick out of inflicting torture’
Explaining how trans women were taken at times from buses, at times from the hair salons that they always went to, and at times from taxis in the daytime without any justification, the trans activist said that she has never forgotten the names of her torturers.
H.Y. disclosed that the names of those who inflicted torture on her at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters were Commissioner Orhan and police officers Cüneyt and Tarkan.
Stating that the police chief whom she recalled by the name of Orhan got a kick out of inflicting torture, she said that when they were taken into custody, statements were not taken, minutes were not kept, nor were they even brought to court.
The beating of a pregnant woman
Regarding how a pregnant sex worker received a beating while in custody at Gayrettepe, H.Y. stated:
“One day a pregnant woman sex worker was taken into custody together with us. Commissioner Orhan inflicted torture on the women one after the other. The woman said, ‘I’m pregnant, don’t hit me.’ And Commissioner Orhan, saying, ‘As if I were the one who knocked you up?’ kicked her in the abdomen. Hearing that woman’s anguished shrieks, I forgot my own pains, if only for a moment. Maybe the women lost her child at that moment, who knows?”
‘The state hospital did not admit us because we were transgender’
“While working in Merter with a friend of mine named Avşar, nicknamed Mardinli, police from the Gayrettepe Vice Squad showed up; Cüneyt and Tarkan. We fled. They arrested us and put us in the car. Avşar ran away. One of the police threw a big oak cudgel at her legs. The cudgel went around her legs and Avşar fell to the ground. At that moment a speeding car struck Avşar. My friend was lying on the ground, covered in blood; I immediately got out of the car and, embracing my friend, began to cry. Those two police officers left us in that condition in the middle of the highway and fled. Hours later an ambulance arrived and took us to the Bakırköy State Hospital. Since we were trans women, the hospital did not admit us and we went to a private hospital in Okmaydanı; there we were able to check in only after receiving special permission from the chief physician.”
‘The media were deaf to what was happening’
Telling how the abuse and torture that transgender women experienced was ignored by the media, H.Y. said, “If the walls at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters could speak, they would have tales to tell.”