Amnesty International today issued an urgent action in the case of around 150 Syrian refugees at risk of being returned to Syria by Turkish authorities. The action also notes that a smaller group of Iraqi refugees “were released from the camp on condition that they return to Iraq within a month. The refugees were travelling to Greece in a boat that sunk on 15 September leaving at least 22 dead, including children.” Amnesty has urged its world-wide membership to take action and calls Turkish authorities to halt the return of refugees, release them from detention, and ensure that their right to lodge asylum claims is protected.
Amnesty International – Turkey has begun a twitter campaign today aimed at halting Korean shipments of teargas to Turkey. The campaign was sparked by new information of the imminent shipment of teargas scheduled this month.
Amnesty has issued an urgent plea to the South Koreans, asking them to suspend the sale. Continue reading
Amnesty International today issued a statement on events in Cizre, where Turkish authorities have instituted a round-the-clock curfew for more than a week. Since September 4, Cizre’s more than 100,000 residents have been forbidden from leaving their homes.
The curfew, a total ban on residents leaving their houses, has been accompanied by the cutting of mobile phone signals, the blocking of roads, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the city, and reported cuts to water and electricity. Outside observers have been banned from entering the city.
The first news on social media seemed positive, saying that journalist, Frederike Geerdink, who was detained several days ago, had finally been released. Unfortunately, things do not look so positive now.
Amnesty International‘s Turkey Researcher, Andrew Gardner, contacted her lawyers and has learned that, although she has been released, she is still under investigation under charges of assisting a terrorist organization continue. Moreover, Geerdink has been transferred to the “Foreigners Section,” a division of the police services that deals with foreign nationals, presumably under a deportation order.
Gardner notes that Geerdink has long been “a thorn in the side of Turkish authorities for her coverage of Kurdish issues” and that today’s actions “appear to be a continuation of Turkey’s campaign to silence critical journalists.”
These developments follow on the heels of the deportation of two British journalists yesterday. Another journalist, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, is still held under anti-terrorism charges in a case that Gardner has described as “unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.” Amnesty has called for his release.
Geerdink was indeed deported and is now back in the Netherlands. She has expressed her anxiousness to return to Turkey as soon as possible to renew her reporting, saying, ”
“As much fun and violence-free the Netherlands may be, it’s not for me, there’s work to do for journalists in Turkey.”
“It’s clear the deportation is an attempt to make sure Frederike is not responsible for critical reporting. But it’s also part of a larger pattern of intimidation of journalists,” said Andrew Gardner.
St. Lawrence University
VICE journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool continues to languish in pre-trial detention under terrorism charges that Amnesty’s Andrew Gardner has described as “unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.”
Meanwhile, we received word today that Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink has also been detained by Turkish authorities.
The crackdown on journalists in Turkey continues. Earlier this week, another wave of journalists were summarily sacked, apparently for writing reports critical of the government (an issue that we have repeatedly highlighted on this blog).
Late yesterday, journalists from Vice News were charged by prosecutors with “aiding a terrorist organization” under the country’s dangerously vague terror statutes. Amnesty International has condemned their arrest and called for their immediate release.
The conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish PKK has once again turned ugly, with significant evidence of abuses and, according to the New York Times, more than 800 killed in recent weeks. For its part, Amnesty International has been working hard monitor and verify abuses. In early August, Amnesty researchers investigated Turkish airstrikes and found that the military had failed to take precautions to protect non-combatants:
Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International noted:
The recent attacks in Kandil maimed, killed, and displaced residents, destroying homes and terrifying locals in an area where no military targets appeared to be present… The apparent absence of a military target within the vicinity of the airstrikes suggests that these strikes are unlawful whether or not there is an armed conflict between the Turkish authorities and the PKK. The Turkish government has displayed a flagrant disregard for the lives of local residents and failed to take necessary precautions to minimize harm to them, or to discriminate between them and PKK fighters
Today, Amnesty issued an urgent action in the case of four men accused of killing a police officer. According to Amnesty, the men have been repeatedly beaten and refused proper medical treatment. It has called on its members to take action to prevent further abuse. Continue reading
In a statement issued today, Amnesty International voiced its dismay at the unwarranted ban on the annual Pride March in Istanbul, describing it as “a new low.” The statement also noted the use of excessive force by the police in suppressing the march, saying that “police arbitrarily used force against peaceful demonstrators attempting to celebrate Pride, who were targeted with water cannon, tear gas and pepper-ball projectiles.” Continue reading
They are water cannoning anything that moves
— Nick Ashdown (@Nick_Ashdown) June 28, 2015
For over a decade, the Pride March in Istanbul has been a centerpiece of Turkey’s active LGBTI community. For over a decade, it has been staged with surprising freedom from repression. Even after the Gezi protest, the Pride March went forward without incident. It is a tradition to be proud of.
Sadly, shockingly, this tradition was broken today with the sudden ban of the march and police mobilized to suppress peaceful demonstrations that have been a cornerstone of Turkish political life since 2003. Social media is awash with images of water cannons being deployed against peaceful protestors.
We’ll have more as additional information as it becomes available.
St. Lawrence University
Looking for something to watch this evening? I’d like to call your attention to two recent documentaries which address Turkish human rights issues.
The second documentary is an episode of MTV’s Rebel Music series, addressing the aftermath of Gezi. The series has been developed in cooperation with Amnesty International’s Art for Amnesty program. The full episode can be viewed here.
St. Lawrence University