The Ali Ismail Korkmaz Trial

page_ali-ismail-korkmaz-davasinda-4-tutuklama-istemi_174204089Ali Ismail Korkmaz was among those killed by police violence during the Gezi protests in June, 2013. He was 19.

Yesterday, there was a modicum of justice in the case when a Turkish court found six guilty in his death.

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:

Five or six people came up to me, they beat me with clubs on my head, back, shoulder and legs. I fell to the ground….Yesterday I didn’t have difficulty in speaking, but today I can’t remember. One of my teeth is loose because of the incident. My head hurts, I have difficulty speaking. I don’t know who beat me or why. They were wearing civilian clothes. I want to make a complaint

Korkmaz was admitted to a hospital after making his statement, but soon fell into a coma. He died on July 10, 2013. Continue reading

Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression, Gezi Park, Impunity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Hrant Dink: Still mourned; still awaiting justice

B7tHrfUCEAIWcDPIt has been eight years now since Hrant Dink was shot down on a cold Istanbul street. He is still mourned.  He still awaits justice.

Dink, an ebullient public intellectual and journalist, was a key figure in Turkey’s dwindling Armenian community and an important activist in Turkey’s long struggle for a more liberal, tolerant society.  For this, he was rewarded with state harassment, a public vilification campaign, and, finally, an assassin’s bullet.

Then, as now, Turkish journalists were subject to threats, smear campaigns and sporadic state prosecution aimed at keeping discourse within set boundaries.  Then, as now, journalists’ requests for police protection are blithely ignored.

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Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Armenian, Excessive Force, Freedom of Expression, Hrant Dink, Impunity | Tagged , , , ,

Amnesty puts the “international” into its protest against teargas shipments to Turkey

Yesterday, Amnesty staged demonstrations in Seoul, South Korea and at the South Korean Embassy in Ankara, urging the South Korean government to suspend a proposed shipment of 1.9 million teargas canisters and gas grenades this year.


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Posted in Amnesty International, Excessive Force, Impunity, Turkey | Tagged , , , ,

As another child dies in Eastern Turkey: “Silence equals Death”

Today, I won’t be writing about Turkey’s horrid response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks and their aftermath today.  Enough ink has been spilled about the crocodile tears spilt by Prime Minister Davutoglu in Paris as he stood in defense of freedom of expression, while busily engaged in suppressing it at home.  Nor will I spend time on the ridiculous conspiracy theories spouted by the semi-official Anatolian Agency, the raid last night on a newspaper issuing publishing experts from the latest edition of the Charlie Hebdo, or the court order to ban internet websites publishing images from the French satirical magazine.  These events, all important, and all worthy of comment, are getting lots of coverage in the international press.

The death of another child in Cizre today, again reportedly from a policeman’s bullet, however, has made barely a ripple outside of the Kurdish press.  News sources report that Nihat Kazanhan, either twelve or thirteen years of age, was killed by a bullet to the head.  There is no suggestion that he was engaged in violence, or even participating in a protest.

A week ago, I wrote about the killing of 14 year old Umit Kurt.  Since then, a secrecy order was placed on the investigation and barely a ripple has been felt in Turkish media: the swift, transparent, and independent investigation that the case demanded seems unlikely.  Without wider public outrage, the culture of impunity stands unchallenged.  I am reminded of the old slogan of the AIDS activists: “Silence equals death.”

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

Posted in Charlie Hebdo, Cumhuriyet, Davutoglu, Freedom of Expression, Internet Freedom, Kurds, Nihat Kazanhan, Press Freedom, Umit Kurt | Tagged , ,

Self censorship is not an option


Reposting from Frederike Geerdink’s blog.

Originally posted on Kurdish Matters:

Türkçe burada okuyabilirsiniz!

A picture I tweeted of a group of Kurdish youths at the Kobani border crossing, holding PKK and Öcalan flags. The front page of my Facebook account. A photo I took of Salih Muslim when I met him last month at a conference in Brussels, where we both spoke. Parts of columns I wrote for Any fifteen-year-old could have compiled the file that the anti-terrorism squad made about me in half an hour: just print out some random stuff I wrote, tweeted and put on FB, staple it together, ready.

temIt was an overwhelming experience to find an anti-terrorism team (TEM) of 8 or 9 people banging on my door, searching my house and detaining me for several hours. I was totally flabbergasted and later very fucked up and angry. The house search and detention are an obvious attack on press freedom, and can’t be condemned…

View original 512 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

Where is the outrage? Another child killed in Eastern Turkey [Updated, January 13]

Umit Kurt

Umit Kurt

According to press reports, January 6 witnessed another day of fatal police violence in Cizre, Turkey.  The town has seen repeated clashes between supporters of the PKK and police in recent weeks.  In the violence yesterday, several were injured and two civilians were killed, including Ümit Kurt, a child of fourteen. 

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Posted in Excessive Force, Minorities, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , ,

Erdogan proclaims Turkey’s press “freest in world” as harassment of journalists intensifies

Without even a trace of a smile, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has, in recent days, repeatedly stated that “Turkey has the world’s freest press.” Indeed, he made the same declaration today as, almost simultaneously, Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink was called in for questioning.

The raid on Geerdink’s house was surprising only because she was a foreigner.  Sadly, harassment of journalists viewed as critical of the government has become routine in Turkey.   Only a day before the raid on Geerdink’s home, journalist Sedef Kabaş was again called in for questioning, apparently for tweets that she made regarding the abrupt closure of  a major corruption case against government officials.  Only a couple weeks before that, police raided the homes and offices of other journalists as part of its crackdown on the Gülen Movement. Continue reading

Posted in Erdogan, Freedom of Expression, Internet Freedom, Press Freedom, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

South Korea: Suspend those Gas Shipments! Three Ways You can Help

South Korea: Don't Give Us Gas!

South Korea: Don’t Give Us Gas!

With South Korea planning to ship 550,000 teargas canisters and grenades to Turkey next month, it is time to act.  Please take action today! Continue reading

Posted in Amnesty International, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Gezi Park, South Korea, Teargas, Turkey | Tagged , , , , ,

Guest Blog: Notes from Ali Ismail Korkmaz Murder Case

A guest blog from our colleague by Andrea de Ruijter, from Amnesty International – Netherlands.  Andrea acted as one of Amnesty’s trial observers at the latest hearing in the Ali Ismail Korkmaz murder case.


“Ali Ismail Korkmaz, dreaming of a free world” is written on T-shirts worn by the lawyers, family members and many others present in court. A year and a half ago, 19-year old Ali Ismail himself wore a T-shirt saying “world peace” on the day that he was beaten and kicked by the police and civilians during a Gezi Park protest. He later died because of this police brutality.

Before the hearing of 26 December I thought that this would be the last hearing in Ali Ismail Korkmaz’ murder case. Unfortunately this turned out to be untrue. One day before the hearing, the lawyer of one of the police defendants told the court he could not be present. His client himself was also unable to attend as he just had a medical operation. At the end of last week’s hearing the judges decided that the defendant should be given the opportunity to give his final defense. The next hearing will therefore take place next month, on 21 January.

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Posted in Amnesty International, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Gezi Park, Impunity, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , ,

From Maraş to Roboski: Remembering and Forgetting in Turkey

marac59fkatliamc4b1In my blog last Friday, I briefly noted the efforts of local authorities in Turkey to suppress commemorations of the brutal Maraş massacre and noted that this action, apparently in contravention of basic norms regarding freedom of expression and assembly, was part of a larger strategy of selective historical memory in Turkey:

The AKP, which has been remarkably willing to open up discussion of some horrific chapters in Turkey’s history (most notably Dersim), have nonetheless, been extremely selective (and instrumentalist) in their choices.  Crimes such as those Maraş, in 1978, or in Sivas, in 1993, which might implicate their own devout Sunni base, are much less likely to be seriously addressed.  Worse, the government continues to actively stifle debate, investigation, and remembrance of many of these crimes.

It is in this light that I would like to remind readers that the December 28th marks another black mark in Turkish history, the anniversary of the Roboski (or Uludere) bombing, in 2011. Continue reading

Posted in Amnesty International, Excessive Force, Impunity, Minorities, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , ,