Abuses against protestors in Turkey: Amnesty calls for Urgent Action [Updated]

With tens of thousands of protestors crossing by foot across the bridge connecting the Asian and European sides of the city it is clear that the protests in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey are intensifying.  News reports indicate that “police from as far afield as Antalya are being drafted in to help quell the violence.”

The Turkish government has clearly taken a hard line.  Prime Minister Erdogan is quoted by the BBC as saying, “Police were there (Taksim Square) yesterday; they’ll be on duty today and also tomorrow because Taksim Square cannot be an area where extremists are running wild.”

Protests in Istanbul last night.  © Nar Photos/ Eren Aytug  Used by permission

Protests in Istanbul last night. © Nar Photos/ Eren Aytug Used by permission

In fact, it is the police who seem to be “running wild,” using force excessively and indiscriminately.  Here is the latest from Amnesty:

Friday night police used even greater levels of violence against demonstrators… There are unconfirmed reports of three deaths. Over 1000 people are thought to be injured, many of them seriously. More than 100 people have been detained in Istanbul. There are consistent reports of ill-treatment against those in detention.

Lawyers told Amnesty International that police beat protestors with truncheons when they apprehended them on the street, again at a police station close to Taksim. Similar violence against detainees was reported when protestors were transferred to the main security directorate in Istanbul.

According to reports, protestors on the street and in detention are being prevented access to appropriate medical care. Attempts by the Istanbul Medical Chamber to set up temporary medical facilities to treat injured demonstrators on the streets were prevented by continuous use of tear gas by police…

Medical professionals told Amnesty International that police security measures have also prevented many demonstrators from accessing the main public hospital in the Taksim area. Reports also indicate that the police fired tear gas close to the entrance to the hospital.

Reports also indicate that police apprehended injured demonstrators in need of hospital treatment and took them instead to police detention where they have not been able to access appropriate medical treatment.

Because Turkish authorities seem determined to continue on this course and have shown no inclination to “take the required steps to ensure the security of the demonstrators and members of the public in general,” Amnesty has updated its call to action.

1. Continue the actions outlined yesterday.  These include:

A. Use of social media:

Please use social media including twitter and facebook to circulate the below suggested messages, tagging @aforgutu for AI Turkey:

.@Valimutlu Police use of force against #direngeziparkı protestors is excessive, unacceptable & breaks international HR standards @aforgutu

.@Valimutlu @RT_Erdogan Istanbul authorities must immediately stop police violence against peaceful #direngeziparkı protestors @aforgutu

Amnesty International’s issuing international call to its activists to take action over police violence in #Taksim #direngeziparkı @aforgutu

B. Voice your concern directly to the Turkish government by writing to the Turkish embassy in your home country (see here for details on text)

Addresses and details for these embassies can be found here: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkish-representations.en.mfa

In addition, Amnesty asks that you lobby your own government

Call or e-mail your representative in Congress or Parliament.  Let them know that you expect your government to speak out for freedom of expression and against the police violence in Turkey.

Contact your country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (the State Department in the United States) and ask them to reiterate Amnesty International’s call for:

•     Turkey’s Prime Minister to intervene immediately to end the police violence against protestors;

•      The authorities to allow the right to peaceful protest of the demonstrators;

•      The end of ill-treatment during arrest and in places of detention;

•      Unhindered access to health care for all those who need it including in detention;

•      An immediate, independent and impartial investigation into allegations of excessive use of force and a clear statement of attrition.

We need your help and, more importantly, the brave protestors in Turkey need your help.  The time to act is now.

Update 1:

New tweets have been issued in Turkish and English:

.@RT_Erdogan @Valimutlu Tavrınızı değiştirin! Şiddete son verin barışçıl gösterilere izin verin, ihlalleri soruşturup engelleyin #occupygezi

.@RT_Erdogan Turkish authorities must allow the right to peaceful protest of the demonstrators @aforgutu #direngeziparkı #occupygezi

For a complete list of suggested tweets in English and Turkish and additional information, click here.

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