Images of Turkish police employing shockingly excessive measures against peaceful demonstrators has once again highlighted Turkey’s willingness to stifle dissent as well as the impunity of its security forces.
Protests which began with a few hundred activists protesting the destruction of one of the last green spaces in central Istanbul, have, in part as a response to images of police brutality, swelled to thousands. Further protests are scheduled not only for Istanbul, but for other cities in Turkey and around the world..
In a statement issued today, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to end its brutal repression of peaceful protests and initiate investigations into well-founded allegations of police brutality.
The statement notes that:
More than a hundred protesters are reported to have been injured during police interventions. Some suffered head injuries and at least two people had to receive emergency surgery.
Amnesty International activists who were observing the protest were also hit with truncheons and tear gassed.
But we need your help in telling Turkish authorities that these brutal measures are unacceptable. Here are three things you can do:
1. Use social media to get out the word
Spread news about this issue via facebook, twitter, and other social media sources. If you use twitter, here are some suggested tweets:
2. Write Namik Tan, the Turkish Ambassador to the United States and tell him that these actions are unacceptable
What to include in your letter:
A. State that concerned at excessive force by law enforcement officials is routinely used in Turkey. In Istanbul, police used excessive force to disperse May Day protesters only four weeks ago.
B. The use of tear gas against peaceful protesters and in confined spaces where it may constitute a serious danger to health is unacceptable. Excessive force against peaceful protesters, as has been evident in the police response to these protests, breaches international human rights standards and must be stopped.
C. Remind the ambassador that any decision to disperse an assembly should be taken only as a last resort and in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality. International standards require that in dispersing assemblies, police must avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, must restrict any such force to the minimum necessary. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to carry out a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of excessive and unnecessary use of force, and ensure that any law enforcement officials responsible for arbitrary or abusive use of force to be prosecuted. Amnesty International also calls on the authorities to ensure protesters’ rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
“The use of violence by police on this scale appears designed to deny the right to peaceful protest altogether and to discourage others from taking part,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia Program at Amnesty International.
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