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.
This post originally appeared in Foreign Policy under the title “A Culture of Fear, Made in Russia.”
By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General
Two decades of stuttering human rights reform in Ukraine was almost scuppered overnight when, on January 16 this year, the Parliament in Kiev railroaded through a raft of new legislation to restrict the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
A virtual carbon-copy of laws adopted in neighboring Russia in recent years, they were tailor-made to give the Ukrainian authorities increased powers to prosecute those involved in the anti-government protests in Kiev’s central Maydan Square, as well as silence dissent more widely.
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.
Video evidence appears to show a group of men violently interrupting Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina’s breakfast in a restaurant near the Nizhny Novgorod train station. Nadya and Masha, who were joined by other members of the new prisoners’ rights NGO “Zone of the Rights,” say they were in the city to inspect a local prison colony.
Their assailants charged into the restaurant, carrying a sign saying “Dirty whores out of our town,” and allegedly attacked the activists with pepper spray, green antiseptic and other projectiles.
Following the incident, Nadya Tolokonnikova tweeted images of medical records showing she received treatment for eye injuries. Masha Alyokhina reportedly needed stitches and suffered from a concussion.
The legacy of the Sochi Olympics will be tainted by the numerous human rights violations in the run-up and during the Games, as well as the failure of the International Olympic Committee to confront the Russian authorities over the arrests and beatings that marred this prestigious sporting event.
The Olympic Games are meant to contribute to a peaceful and better world. This goal was not achieved in Sochi. The reason is simple: Russia’s repression continued unabated throughout the Games, and the Olympic movement failed to challenge the host country on its pledge to promote human rights.
By Zoryan Kis, Campaign Coordinator at Amnesty International Ukraine
Ukraine’s EuroMaydan protests started exactly three months ago today. Never before in my lifetime has the country witnessed such a neglect of human rights and dignity, such an appalling inability of the government to listen to its people and such incredible courage of ordinary people standing for their rights.
Late last year, when Amnesty International Ukraine was launching our first petition against police brutality and impunity, we could not have imagined the extent of abuses by law enforcement officers we would face in January and February 2014.
By Ludmila Krytynskaia, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist
President Vladimir Putin lifted a blanket ban on protests and rallies in Sochi shortly before the Olympic Games were launched, thereby fulfilling his promise to the International Olympic Committee to relax the rules governing protests in the city.
The easing of the protest ban coupled with the release of dozens of high-profile prisoners last month – including former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot – has led to speculation in the Western media about whether these decisions were a sign of a political thaw in Russia, a result of diplomatic behind-the-scenes maneuverings or just a public relations stunt to stave off criticism of the human rights situation in the country on the eve of the Olympics.