“When I get out of here, I will stop practicing medicine and study law, and I will make them pay what they did to us” said Halil Ibrahim Özyavuz, a doctor held in custody in Istanbul Silivri Prison, to his brothers who were visiting him. This was not just a frantic statement of the young doctor.
Two weeks before his death, his father had visited his son. At the funeral of young doctor everyone learned about what they had talked that day: “My son told me he was being tortured but I didn’t believe him, they killed my son.”
Halil İbrahim Özyavuz (43), one of the symbol names of the Annihilation Period, was a young doctor before he was killed by torture covered as ‘suicide’. He was born in Harran, one of the famous districts of Şanlıurfa, as a son of a family with 7 children and managed to get admitted to faculty of medicine while working in fields. He had ranked 242nd in the university admission exam, among more than a million students. Moreover, with this success, he was on the headline of the newspaper ‘Sabah’, a ‘pro-government newspaper’. But the same newspaper did not publish or even mention any news about his death.
His success continued throughout his educational life. He graduated from the Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine as the top student of his class, one of the hardest schools in Turkey to get admitted. In 2013 he took the Medical Specialization Examination (TUS) and he ranked 3rd in all Turkey. After his graduation, he received an invitation from a private university in the United States, but he chose to stay and serve his country at the request of his family.
When the police raided his home in May 2018, he had just finished his studies and became a radiologist. He was not home that morning. They went to the local police station with his father to find out what was going on. He did not think he had committed any crime. He had not committed, but was taken into custody even though he had gone there himself to testify. He was accused of being member of an organization and being a terrorist. After a long and battered custody, he was sent to prison.
On June 3, 2018, the family got a news from İstanbul Silivri Prison. The young doctor who had been taken into custody a month ago had committed suicide. Nobody, especially his family, believed this news. The family immediately asked to see their son. But his body was not shown to his parents or his lawyer. When insisted, the police told that Özyavuz committed suicide by beating himself. Nobody believed that either. In a 6-person ward, it was impossible for a person to beat himself without no one hearing it. It was obvious that there was a problem. The reason that the police made excuses was the marks of assault on the body. When the family did not believe the second statement, this time the police claimed that his friends in the ward had beaten him. The state was now trying to cover up what they did by slandering others. The police could not get over it, finally they pressured the family, and unfortunately Özyavuz family remained silent.
The body of Halil İbrahim Özyavuz was handed to his family two days after his death. As the family was intimidated, they did not engage the doctors of the Turkish Medical Association or the Human Rights Association (HRA) to detect torture. His father could only tell journalists who wanted to interview them: “they will kill us too, there is no state here”. His cousins had do delete one by one their posts on social media about their cousin being killed by torture.
In an emergency, sick prisoners in Silivri Prison are normally taken to the Silivri State Hospital, which is close to the prison. But that night, Özyavuz was taken to Istanbul Haseki Hospital which is about two hours away. Why there? Was the men that would write the reports as requested by the state in Haseki? Which doctor examined him that night? What really happened to his body, what was in the report? The answers of these questions do not exist for the time being, because the investigation run by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is classified as confidential. The people who know the truth prefer to remain silent.
A year has passed since the death of Özyavuz, who was married and had one kid. Journalists, who wanted to uncover the torture made to the young doctor, knocked on the family’s door again in June 2019, but the silence continued. Because the family had a mayor in the AKP (Erdoğan’s party), and deputy candidates in the MHP (Nationalist Party). What happened to a young man who was tortured to death was covered up for the sake of politics.