The case of Zaki Hassan: the horrors of Erdogan’s regime


By Souad Sbai

The misdeeds of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime never end. While the sultan-dictator is preparing to give the coup de grace to Turkish democracy, after having overturned the result of Istanbul’s mayoral elections, the case of Zaki Mubarak Hasan (Palestinian) and his more than suspicious death at Silivri prison, in Istanbul, are traveling around the world (without touching Italy).

Silivri can be considered the Turkish version of Evin in Tehran, for 40 years the main place of detention of political opponents of the Iranian Khomeinist regime, men and women, especially young people; lives devastated by torture, abuse and all sorts of humiliation.

Erdogan’s prison horrors of had previously appeared on the international news because it is there where hundreds of opponents, victims of the endless purges carried out after the alleged failed coup in July 2016, are still imprisoned. Opposed to the bitter gulenist enemies, for whom the name of a new (and non-existent)  terrorist organization has even been invented: the “fethullahists” or those who follow Fethullah Gülen, better known by the acronym FETO (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization).

Around Silivri, the controversies concerning the recent disappearance of Ibrahim Halil Özyavuz, a doctor, and Zeki Güven, a former police officer in Ankara, which occurred in the second half of 2018, are still alive and do not show any signs of abating. Güven died suddenly of heart attack shortly before testifying before the Court where he could have revealed uncomfortable secrets for Erdogan’s regime. That is why nobody believes the official version issued by the prison authorities, that have instead spoken of suicide regarding Özyavuz but the obvious signs of torture on the body have convinced the family that it was a murder.

The dynamics related to the death and subsequent shipping of Özyavuz’s dead body precede the case of Zaki Mubarak Hassan, the last mysterious death that took place in Erdogan’s prison of horrors. Arrested on April 15 in Istanbul along with another man of unknown identity accused of espionage on behalf of the United Arab Emirates; A few days later, Hassan was found hanging in his cell with a rope hanging from his neck. Hence the speech about suicide promoted by both the Turkish media and Al Jazeera.

Hassan’s family members immediately denied this version, requesting the immediate return of the body to verify the circumstances of the death with an autopsy. However, the restitution of the body was carried out after 16 days, probably the time necessary to eliminate or hide as much as possible the signs of torture inflicted on the prisoner. An attempt as clumsy as useless, as evidenced by the disfigured face, the split eyebrow, the organs extracted from the body along with the throat and tongue, the broken nails, which caused a shock in the family members when they saw the body. The Turkish medical examiner, says Zaki’s brother desperately, did not have the courage to insist on suicide, writing in the report “death caused by unknown circumstances”.

The family and the corpse are now in Egypt. The brother asks for intervention by the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and will denounce Erdogan before the UN Human Rights Court in Geneva, before the International Court of Justice in The Hague and before the French Justice. He also points to Al Jazeera due to the broadcaster network spreads a distorted version of the incident, and to Hamas, the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip, because it would have provided “false reports” about Zaki to the Turkish intelligence services. Zaki worked for the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Services, but had retired a long time ago. With the rest of the family he lived in Bulgaria, where he started a business that he wanted to expand in Turkey. His presence in Istanbul, explains his brother, was therefore due business reasons and he had received the residence permit with his Palestinian passport and not thanks to the Bulgarian passport.

However, Istanbul is home to many members of Hamas, and Zaki, who attended the city’s Arab community, was notoriously hostile to the Islamist organization. This is how, in Hamas’s Istanbul circles, the plan to give him the false spy license in order to induce the Turkish authorities to arrest him would have been born, even if no evidence supporting the accusations has been shown so far, despite the continuous requests made by the relatives of the Palestinian man.

Zaki would have wanted to return to live in the Gaza Strip and be buried there after his death, but his brother first intends to complete the medical examinations on the corpse in Egypt, whose result will be useful in international trials against the Turkish state as evidence of torture and murder. In fact, in Gaza, Hamas would prevent the conduct of an impartial autopsy taking into account their elective affinities with Erdogan, who, as Zaki’s sister states, is already pressing to avoid the formation of an international commission of inquiry.

While waiting for news in the case of Zaki Hassan, it is necessary to point out the fact that under Erdogan’s regime, Turkey has become an increasingly insecure country, even for foreigners residing there and tourists . The brutality carried out by the sultan-dictator is reflected in the work of the security services and prison staff and in the insistence with which he finally managed to obtain the repetition of the vote for Istanbul’s mayor. A brutality ready for everything, that knows no borders and that will not stop even in the face of a new defeat in the June 23 elections.


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