About Howard Eissenstat

Howard Eissenstat is an Assistant Professor of History at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, NY as well as serving as a Country Specialist on Turkey for Amnesty International USA. He earned his doctorate in Modern Middle Eastern History from UCLA in 2007. In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Eissenstat writes frequently on contemporary Turkish politics, foreign policy, and human rights issues. He can be reached at heissens@stlawu.edu.
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Tweet Hakan Yaman the Birthday Gift He Deserves: Justice

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.

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5 Things You Need To Know About the Gezi Protests

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.

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4 Quick Ways to Take Further Action on Turkish Abuses

A riot police fires tear gas at demonstrators during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo Credit: Bulent Doruk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

A riot police fires tear gas at demonstrators during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo Credit: Bulent Doruk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

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.

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Inside One of the Most Important Court Cases in Turkish History

Turkish gendarmerie and riot police fire water cannon and tear gas as they clash with hundreds of protesters trying to enter a courthouse in Silivri near Istanbul (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkish gendarmerie and riot police fire water cannon and tear gas as they clash with hundreds of protesters trying to enter a courthouse in Silivri near Istanbul (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

The Ergenekon trial, which came to a close this week, is without question, one of the most important court cases in Turkish history. The case involved an alleged coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the successful prosecution would seem another chapter in the AKP’s important efforts in reigning in illegal and anti-democratic actions by the Turkish armed services.

I’d like this to be a simple story of military power being brought under the control of an elected civilian government. Unfortunately, the Ergenekon story is also one of missed opportunities and justice denied. The Ergenekon trial had enormous potential to uncover the crimes of the past and set the tone for real justice in the new Turkey. It failed on both these accounts.

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An Ugly Crackdown in Turkey

Turkish policeman detain a protestor during a protest on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul (Photo Credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkish policeman detain a protestor during a protest on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul (Photo Credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images).

Ugly police violence and repression of freedom of speech and of assembly continue in Turkey, where attempts to stage protests in Taksim Square have been repeatedly suppressed with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets in the past few days.

The toll has been heavy. As an Amnesty statement released on July 9 notes, “[according] to the Istanbul Medical Association at least 30 people were injured yesterday including a 17 year-old… who is in a critical condition with head injuries after he was hit with a gas canister.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ali İsmail Korkmaz succumbed to his wounds this week, the fifth confirmed death in the violence. According to newspaper reports, Korkmaz was injured during protests in Eskişehir on June 2, when he attempted to escape police tear gas and was “brutally beaten by a group wearing civilian clothes.” No arrests have been made in the case. He was nineteen years old.

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Turkish Crackdown Intensifies: Take Action Today!

Demonstrators try to escape from riot police on June 11, 2013 on Taksim square in Istanbul. Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he would show 'no more tolerance' for the unrelenting mass demonstrations against his Islamic-rooted government (Photo Credit: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images).

Demonstrators try to escape from riot police on June 11, 2013 on Taksim square in Istanbul. Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he would show ‘no more tolerance’ for the unrelenting mass demonstrations against his Islamic-rooted government (Photo Credit: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images).

As international condemnation of Turkish police repression against peaceful protesters continues, the Turkish government doubled down today with an early morning raid on Taksim Square.

Istanbul’s Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu assured the public that the intervention was only to remove some banners. Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey reports “[when] we met with the Governor this afternoon, he continued to insist that the police were using appropriate force in pursuit of legitimate goals. Neither of these claims is consistent with the reality on the ground.”

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Urgent Action Needed in Turkey to Stop Police Violence

Since May 31, more than 4,000 protesters have been injured as Turkish police continue to use excessive force in an attempt to disperse them. Amnesty International has seen a growing body of evidence of police brutality, including extensive use of teargas and water cannons against nonviolent protesters. Video footage taken at the scene of demonstrations has shown police officers kicking visibly defenseless protesters and even beating them with batons.

During the first days of the crisis, Amnesty International’s office, located in the heart of the Istanbul protest zone, stayed open around the clock, while volunteer doctors treated injured protesters. Amnesty staff and volunteers have risked their personal safety to document abuses and ensure that the world receives accurate information about the events unfolding in Turkey.

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What You Can Do NOW to Stop the Abuse of Protestors in Turkey

A protester covers her face during clashes with Turkish police near the prime minister's office in Istanbul (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images).

A protester covers her face during clashes with Turkish police near the prime minister’s office in Istanbul (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images).

In Turkey, a major human rights crisis looms.  Here is what an update on what you can do about it.

The Crisis

As protests continue to rock Turkish cities, Amnesty International has warned that injuries due to “police abuse will continue to escalate unless the authorities bring police tactics in line with basic human rights standards.” Police excesses have been “disgraceful,” Amnesty says. The number of those injured by excessive police force is as yet unknown, but is believed to be in the thousands. Many of the injuries have been serious. There are as yet unconfirmed reports of deaths.

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