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.”
In the past two weeks, thousands have been injured due to police violence in Turkey. Again today, the police used water cannons and tear gas against peaceful demonstrators. An Amnesty press release today, citing the Istanbul Medical Association, says that there were further injuries today, including “nine people injured by plastic bullets, several broken limbs, a number of cases of head and chest trauma and one fractured skull.” To date, the Turkish government has failed to investigate the many documented allegations of police violence and nobody has been brought to justice.
There are also troubling signs of a broader crackdown. A number of media outlets have reported that individuals have been arrested for twitter and Facebook messages (Amnesty is still researching the details of these arrests). Moreover, scores of lawyers sympathetic to the protesters were arrested today as they prepared to make a statement about the protests.
Clearly, the need for continued action is there. We must not watch passively as peaceful protesters are victimized.
Amnesty International is calling on Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step in immediately and stop police violence. Ill-treatment on arrest and in detention must end, access to medical care must be ensured. An independent and effective investigation into the violence must be carried out together with an urgent display of attrition from the government to diffuse the crisis.
Please join in Amnesty’s call on the Turkish government to protect freedom of expression and end police abuse.
1. If you have not done so already, sign Amnesty’s petition here. It will only take a minute. If you have already signed, ask your friends and family to join in. Remember, the Turkish government does not see “likes” on Facebook. Voice your opinion in a way that the Turkish government can hear.
2. Tweet for freedom and against police repression! Amnesty has developed new twitter messages:
.@RT_Erdogan Removing banners is not a legitimate reason to stop a peaceful assembly. Stop police intervention in #Taksim now! @aforgutu
.@RT_Erdogan Protests in #Taksim Square have been peaceful. Stop the use of tear gas and water cannons on peaceful protestors. @aforgutu
3. Keep up to date with our on-going campaign.
We will update the action as needed. Consider joining Amnesty International USA’s Turkish Regional Action Network, follow us on Facebook or at our blog site, Human Rights in Turkey. Follow Amnesty Researcher Andrew Gardner on Twitter at @andrewegardner. This is an urgent and on-going crisis. We need your support.