In Turkey, 29 men and women are about to go on trial for Twitter messages they sent during the Gezi Protests last June. This is another ugly step in the Turkish government’s increasingly intense war on dissent. It is important to let the government – as well as those on trial – know that the whole world is watching.
Despite a number of disputes over vote counts and numerous allegations of impropriety, the municipal elections in Turkey held this past Sunday clearly gave the Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP a resounding victory.
Just as clearly, however, government actions in the lead up to elections, along with statements since, have given Turkish human rights advocates ample cause for concern.
With a little over a week to go before important municipal elections, the Turkish government blocked access to Twitter for millions of its citizens late last night.
Writing from Turkey, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey described the move as “a desperate and futile measure, the latest move in the AKP’s clampdown on freedom of expression.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Ali Ismail Korkmaz was among those killed during the Gezi protests in Turkey last June. He would have celebrated his twentieth birthday today. Today, let’s work to ensure that his family sees justice done.
Korkmaz was savagely beaten on June 2, 2013 during the Gezi Protests. In a statement to authorities before he died, Korkmaz he described the attack:
A National Tragedy
Once again, Turkish streets are filled with voices of protest. And once again, those voices are choked with tear gas and buffeted by water cannon. The scenes on television and social media seem terribly similar to those which shocked the world during the Gezi protests this past June.
In fact, the immediate catalyst for these protests is directly tied to the terrible costs of police repression during the Gezi protests.
One of the most shocking aspects of Turkey’s violent crackdown on peaceful protest has been the willingness of authorities to target medical personnel. Since then, not only have authorities not been held responsible, but the government has moved to increase legal pressure on medical personnel.
Amnesty has played a central role in researching this abuse. In its report on the Gezi Protests, Amnesty researchers describe in detail the extent to which those caring for the injured were themselves subject to police abuse.
What Hakan Yaman most wants for his birthday – what he most deserves – is justice from the state that has so tragically failed him. Today, you can help him get it with a birthday greeting through twitter.
Yaman, the father of two, is one of the thousands of victims of shocking police violence which Amnesty has described in its new report on the suppression of freedom in Turkey during the Gezi protests. Yaman, himself, was not even a protester, but simply returning home from work during the course of the protests. Mistaken for a protester, he was attacked by police who beat him, and dragged him on top of a street fire. Before leaving him, one police officer gouged one of his eyes out.
At least eight thousand injured, at least five confirmed deaths (with strong evidence linking at least three of these deaths to police abuse), many thousands detained.
As this powerful video produced by Amnesty International shows, the human cost of the Turkish government’s decision to suppress peaceful protests this past summer was immense.
In a major report issued today, Amnesty International has given compelling and comprehensive documentation of these events, providing detailed evidence of Turkish authorities suppression of freedom of assembly and expression.
In Turkey, police violence against peaceful protestors continues. It is time for the world community to make its condemnation clear, not only through words, but through action. In this, Turkey’s most important ally, the United States, should take the lead.
In June and July, the world was galvanized by scenes of police violence against peaceful protestors in Turkey. Turkish police rained more than a hundred thousand tear gas canisters on its own citizens as they exercised their basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly. Hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals across the globe raised their voices against the abuses.
The saying is almost the same in Turkish, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On June 29, the New York Times published an op-ed by Turkish EU Minister, Egemen Bağış, in which he defended Turkey by arguing that the Gezi protests were evidence of Turkey’s mature democracy, describing protestors as a manifestation of a “vibrant civil society.” As noted in a brilliant take-down by my colleague at Amnesty USA, Bill Jones, this is the same Bağış who a few short weeks earlier had warned, at the height of the protests:
From now on, the state will unfortunately have to consider everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror organization…
Our prime minister has already assured [activists] about their aim with the protests. The protests from now on will play into the hands of some separatist organizations that want to break the peace and prioritize vandalism and terrorism.