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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California's Big Death Penalty Moment

death penalty californiaBy this time next year, the death penalty could be a thing of the past in California. Find out more and get involved now.  It is a very big deal.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, but, in reality, even when it comes to the death penalty, many of the most important things are actually bigger in California.  California’s death row is more than twice the size of the one in Texas, and last year Los Angeles County alone accounted for as many death sentences (8) as the entire Lone Star State. (California sentenced 28 people to death statewide.)

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Georgians Raise Voices For Troy Davis, Thousands Back Them Up

Thousands came out for Troy Davis in Atlanta on September 16th

About 3,500 people marched and prayed for Troy Davis in Atlanta last night.  Three busloads of supporters arrived from Davis’ hometown of Savannah along with other buses from Columbus and Rome, Georgia.

Ebenezer Baptist Church could not accommodate about half the supporters who arrived for the prayer service led by Rev. Raphael Warnock of Dr. King’s historic church.  So an impromptu rally took place outside the church, while death row exonerees, a murder victim family member, Georgia clergy and nationally prominent human rights leaders, such as our Executive Director Larry Cox and that of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous spoke inside.  The march was an amazing sight to see – a sea of signs declaring “Too Much Doubt” and “Stop the Execution” held by a diversity of individuals and groups.

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Troy Davis: Hundreds of Thousands Acting, More Action Needed

troy davis petitions

Amnesty staff and coalition partners deliver 650,000 petition signatures to the Georgia Office of Pardons and Paroles on September 15th.

There are hundreds of solidarity events in the works and hundreds of thousands of petition signatures delivered for Troy Davis.

But while the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is hearing from the more than half a million of us who support Troy Davis, there is one other person, Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm, who can prevent this execution.

D.A. Chisolm can at any time seek to have the current death warrant withdrawn, and he can, instead of opposing, support Troy Davis’ petition for clemency.  And he should do so without delay.

Send a message to D.A. Chisolm right away.

Gaza Blockade: Amnesty International Delivers 23,000 Signatures to Clinton

A boy poses in front of one of more than 4,000 houses in the Gaza Strip that the UN said were totally destroyed or beyond repair after the war. (c) IRIN 2010. Photo by Sahari Karam/Irin. CLICK IMAGE TO SEE COMPLETE SLIDESHOW

A boy poses in front of one of more than 4,000 houses in the Gaza Strip that the UN said were totally destroyed or beyond repair after the war. (c) IRIN 2010. Photo by Sahari Karam/Irin. CLICK IMAGE TO SEE COMPLETE SLIDESHOW

Today, we delivered a petition to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, asking her to urge the Israeli government to lift the blockade of Gaza immediately. More than 23,000 people signed the petition, making it Amnesty International’s most successful Facebook petition to date.

>> Check out IRIN News’ photo gallery, which showcases powerful photographs of life in Gaza.

Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip leaves more than 1.4 million Palestinians cut off from necessary and life-saving supplies, exacerbating a situation of extreme and desperate poverty. The blockade restricts the entry of basic goods, such as food and fuel, on which the population depends on for survival.

The blockade is strangling virtually every aspect of life for Gaza’s population, more than half of whom are children. The increasing isolation and suffering of the people of Gaza cannot be allowed to continue. The Israeli government must comply with binding legal obligation, as the occupying power, to lift the blockade without further delay - Malcolm Smart, Middle East and North Africa Director, Amnesty International

Israel argues that the blockade is a natural response to the continued attacks by Palestinian armed groups, including the rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel. But the blockade doesn’t distinguish between those responsible for the rocket attacks and those who are just trying to make it through another day. It collectively punishes the entire population of Gaza, including many women and children, who are just trying to survive with no resources.

The people of Gaza share with everyone else the right to dignified lives, free of indiscriminate and prolonged suffering. They should not be subjected to this continuation of collective punishment brought on by the blockade – Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory

To learn about similar petitions in the future, please join Amnesty International USA on Facebook.

Learn more about the situation in Gaza:

Suffocating: The Gaza Strip Under the Israeli Blockade (PDF)

Troubled Waters – Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water (PDF)

Sri Lanka: when will displaced civilians be released?

Displaced Sri Lankan Tamil civilians watch as unseen French and British Foreign Ministers arrive at camp for talks in the unsuccessful civilian release.

Displaced Sri Lankan Tamil civilians watch as unseen French and British Foreign Ministers arrive at camp for talks in the unsuccessful civilian release. Photo credit goes to Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re interested in getting an update on the displaced civilians held in internment camps in northern Sri Lanka, I’d highly recommend the statement issued by Amnesty International today entitled, “Sri Lanka’s Displaced Face Uncertain Future as Government Begins to Unlock the Camps“.  It’s a good summary of the hurdles the Sri Lankan government is placing in the path of the civilians being able to leave the camps.  (For background on this story, please visit our Sri Lanka page.)

If you’ve been following this story, you know the numbers of the civilians involved can get confusing.  Amnesty issued another statement today, “Counting the Human Cost of Sri Lanka’s Conflict,” which succinctly describes the numbers involved.  I’d highly recommend reading that statement as well.

You may find it instructive as well to read President Rajapaksa’s interview with Le Figaro.  In one spot in the interview, he refuses to say whether the Sri Lankan government will honor its earlier pledge to re-settle 80% of the displaced civilians by the end of this year.  In another place in the interview, it appears that he may be saying that it could take another 6 months or even a year before all the civilians are allowed out of the camps (it’s unclear whether he’s referring to allowing civilians to leave the camps or ending the state of emergency Sri Lanka is currently governed under).

AI’s ”Unlock the Camps” campaign continues.  If you haven’t already, please consider participating in our campaign:  fill out a petition, send an online letter, hold a demonstration, so the displaced civilians can finally get the rights they’re entitled to, including freedom of movement.  If you have any constructive suggestions for how best to persuade the Sri Lankan government to grant the displaced civilians their rights, I’d appreciate hearing them.

Troy Davis Gets Hearing

The U.S. Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit has scheduled oral arguments for December 9 in the case of Troy Davis.   This was something that Davis’ lawyers requested, and that the state of Georgia argued against.

The main question before the Court will be whether Davis has met the conditions required to file a second, or successive, habeas corpus petition; the underlying question, of course, is whether Davis is innocent.

Stay tuned …