Amnesty: Intensified crackdown on media increases atmosphere of fear


Journalist Sahin Alpay being taken into custody Wednesday

[The following is a repost of Amnesty’s press release of 28 July 2016]

As Turkey enters its second week of a three month state of emergency, the ongoing crackdown on civil society and the assault on media freedom has reached disturbing levels, said Amnesty International.

Arrest warrants have been issued for 89 journalists, more than 40 have already been detained and others are in hiding. A second emergency decree passed on 27 July has resulted in the shutdown of 131 media outlets.


Rounding up journalists and shutting down media houses is the latest assault on a media already weakened by years of government repression. The passing of this second emergency decree leaves little room for doubt that the authorities are intent on silencing criticism without regard to international law,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, Fotis Filippou.

“Even under a state of emergency, restrictions must be necessary, proportionate and for a legitimate purpose. The provisions of the two emergency decrees passed this week fail all three of these tests and fly in the face of the government’s claim that they are upholding rights and the rule of law.”

The second decree follows the first, passed on the July 23, which increased the pre-charge detention period to 30 days. Amnesty International revealed credible reports of widespread ill-treatment and torture of detainees. Lawyers have been denied access to detainees in violation of law.We reiterate our call for Turkish authorit

“The authorities must bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses during the coup attempt. But this must be done in a manner that respects the right to fair trial, the prohibition of torture and other human rights. The intenstified crackdown on freedom of the press does not serve this purpose and is unlawful,” said Fotis Filippou.

“We reiterate our call for Turkish authorities to end ill-treatment and torture of those being detained and allow international monitors to visit all detainees in the places they are being held.”


Statistics on brutal backlash after failed coup

Human rights in Turkey are in peril following a bloody failed coup attempt on 15 July. The Turkish authorities’ reaction was swift unleashing a crackdown of exceptional proportions that has continued after a state of emergency declared five days later.



Amnesty International has been on the ground in Istanbul and Ankara to document human rights violations amid these events. Here are some alarming statistics on the situation:

131 media outlets and publishing houses have been shut down including 3 news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 journals and 29 publishing houses.

At least 89 arrest warrants were issued for journalists. More than 40 have been detained

At least 260 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured amid the failed coup attempt in Istanbul and Ankara, according to government accounts.

More than 15,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

More than 45,000 people have been suspended or removed from their jobs, including police, judges and prosecutors, and others.

Over 1,000 private schools and educational institutions have been closed and 138,000 school children will have to be transferred to state schools

48 hours: the length of time Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul have reportedly been holding detainees in stress positions. Detainees have been denied food, water and medical treatment, and been verbally abused and threatened. Some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.

3 months: the initial period of state of emergency imposed late on 20 July, granting the Prime Minister and his cabinet the power to rule by decree and bypass Parliament.

30 days: the pre-charge detention limit was increased from four to 30 days on 23 July, in the first decree issued under the state of emergency.

15: the Article of the Turkish Constitution which outlines that the authorities cannot “suspend” the European Convention on Human Rights. Even during a state of emergency, they can only derogate some rights.

0: the number of independent human rights monitors with access to detention facilities in Turkey after its National Human Rights Institution was abolished in April 2016.

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Amnesty calls for independent monitors as allegations of torture mount


Government supporters wave Turkish flags in front of an electronic billboard displaying the face of President Erdogan in Ankara Getty

In the aftermath of a failed coup attempt, Amnesty has seen mounting evidence of human rights abuses, including a further clamp down on freedom of expression and mass arrests. The detention of human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz and the raid on the satirical magazine LeMan highlight the absurdly broad net authorities have cast.

Amnesty’s press release today details arguably the most troubling aspect of the current crackdown.  The human rights watch dog has “has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.”

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Posted in Academic Freedom, Andrew Gardner, Due Process, Excessive Force, Impunity, Torture, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

Amnesty on State of Emergency in Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Ankara

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Amnesty International issued a press release yesterday, July 21, on the newly declared State of Emergency in Turkey.   The text is below:

President Erdogan’s announcement of the imposition of a state of emergency must not pave the way for a roll-back in human rights or be used as a pretext to further clamp down on freedom of expression and protections against arbitrary detention and torture, said Amnesty International today.

Following a meeting of the National Security Council and the Turkish cabinet late Wednesday night, President Erdogan announced that the government will impose a state of emergency for at least three months.

“In the wake of the violence surrounding the attempted coup, taking measures prioritising public security is understandable. But emergency measures must respect Turkey’s obligations under international law, should not discard hard won freedoms and human rights safeguards, and must not become permanent,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

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Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Press, Military, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Amnesty: Rights must be respected in aftermath of failed coup


A tank moves into position as Turkish people attempt to stop them, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, July 16, 2016. Turkey’s armed forces said it “fully seized control” of the country Friday and its president responded by calling on Turks to take to the streets in a show of support for the government. A loud explosion was heard in the capital, Ankara, fighter jets buzzed overhead, gunfire erupted outside military headquarters and vehicles blocked two major bridges in Istanbul. (AP Photo) Photographer: STR/AP

In response to a shocking coup attempt by elements of the military at overthrowing the elected government of Turkey, Amnesty International issued the following statement:

Turkey is still reeling from a night of violence in which a coup attempt from within the country’s armed forces was defeated. According to the authorities, 161 people were killed opposing the coup attempt while more than 100 coup plotters were killed. By mid-afternoon today, 2839 military personnel had been detained on suspicion of taking part in the attempted coup [the number detained has risen dramatically since the statement was issued]. Violence was centred in Ankara, where the Parliament building was subjected to aerial bombardment and in Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul. Deaths were reported as members of the public confronted armed soldiers.

Turkey has a history of military coups with devastating consequences for human rights. Turkey is still living with the scars of the last military coup, of 12 September 1980. The three years of repressive military rule that followed saw hundreds of thousands of arbitrary detentions and widespread torture, extrajudicial killings and 50 executions.
The Turkish authorities have averted the threat of such a tragedy repeating itself. The coup attempt was thwarted partly by ordinary people taking to the streets and uniting to counter the coup threat. The full circumstances of the coup attempt and the violence that followed it must be effectively investigated and all those responsible brought to justice in fair trials.


A number of government officials and ruling party representatives have spoken in favour of reinstating the death penalty, itself a tool of past military rulers. This regressive step should be avoided, as should further restrictions on legitimate dissent.

The Turkish authorities should instead be looking to strengthen respect for the rule of law and human rights and the independence and effectiveness of institutions, such as the judiciary, that are essential to upholding them.

Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Due Process, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Amnesty: Turkey’s escalating abuses risk return to dark days of 1990s


A woman cries in front of a damaged mosque in Sur district in Diyarbakir, on Dec 11, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Ilyas Akengin)

The message of Amnesty’s latest statement on abuses in Turkey’s on-going operations in south eastern Turkey could hardly have been clearer.  Things are getting much, much worse, with  “growing evidence of severe human rights violations, including torture and impunity for human rights abuses.”  If Turkey continues this descent, Amnesty warns, it runs the risk of turning back the clock to the darkest days of the 1990s, when disappearances and systematic torture were everyday horrors.

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Posted in Amnesty International, Anti-terrorism, Excessive Force, Freedom of Expression, Impunity, Kurds, Military, Minorities, Terrorism, Torture, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Amnesty: Turkey must protect, not ban Pride marches


Reuters: “Resistance: Turkish riot police fired watercannons, rubber pellets and teargas as a gay pride parade in Istanbul descended into violence.” Water cannon and tear gas were used against peaceful protestors during the 2015 Pride March in Istanbul

Amnesty International issued a public statement this week condemning the decision of the Ankara Governor to ban a march to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) planned to take place in Ankara on Sunday, 22 May. Amnesty International calls on Turkish authorities to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and their allies are able to enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and assembly without fear of intimidation or violence.

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Condolence Book for Tahir Elçi


Human Rights defender Tahir Elçi was killed in Diyarbakir 28 November 2015

Human rights lawyer/defender Tahir Elçi was shot dead in Diyarbakir on 28 November 2015. You may recall that Amnesty International organised a public meeting to pay tribute to him in January, attended by his wife, Turkan  Elçi, and one of his closest friends, Orhan Kemal Cengiz.

Almost 6 months on, the investigation into his murder has not yet concluded. As we continue to call for justice, please consider sending a message of condolence to Turkan Elçi and his children, using this link. Amnesty International -Turkey will hand all the messages to her later this month.

Posted in Amnesty International, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Press, Impunity, Kurds, Minorities, Terrorism, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Good news in the case of Syrian refugee M.K.

Today we’ve received some very good news regarding Syrian refugee M.K., who had been arbitrarily detained at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen airport since 9 November 2015.

He was released on 29 March. He is required to go to the central Anatolian province of Aksaray to await a decision on his international protection application. He will not be detained while awaiting the decision.

We have been following his case for months now.  Thank you to all the activists who lent their support in gaining his release

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With President Erdogan in Washington, Amnesty Plans Rally to Protest Abuses [Updated]


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is in Washington DC for the next few days as part of Nuclear Security Summit.  Please join Amnesty International’s rally to protest continuing human rights abuses in Turkey this Thursday, March 31.

Time: 11:30 am

Where: Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20036.

Contact: T. Kumar:   Mobile: +1-202-997-4567; Email:

Here’s the press release that Amnesty International issued late Tuesday afternoon:

President Obama has the opportunity to address serious human rights concerns with world leaders who will be in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit this week. In particular, he must address the continued repressive security operations in east and southeast Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish government’s onslaught on primarily Kurdish towns and neighborhoods, which includes round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services, is putting the lives of up to 200,000 people at risk. Water and electricity services have been cut in some areas, and Amnesty International has received reports of security forces barring ambulances from reaching hospitals.

The curfews have been imposed since July 2015, when the peace process between the government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) broke down.

“While the president plays host to these leaders, he must seize the opportunity to press upon them to uphold human rights in their own countries,” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for Europe. “So far Turkey has faced very little global criticism on this issue, as the international community has focused more on enlisting Turkey’s help in the refugee crisis. While that remains a critical issue, these continued human rights violations cannot be overshadowed.”

Turkish authorities have prevented independent observers such as human rights organizations from entering areas under curfew, making it difficult to form an accurate picture of what is going on. People speaking out against abuses have been subjected to threats, criminal investigation and other forms of harassment.

Amnesty International USA will hold a protest outside of the Brookings Institution when President Erdogan speaks there on March 31 at 11:30 am.


Posted in Amnesty International, Excessive Force, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

In Turkey, freedom of expression early casualty of “anti-terror” campaign

Turkey has suffered from a series of horrendous attacks in recent months.  The security challenges it faces are very real.  Unfortunately, the rhetoric coming out of Ankara suggests that, under the umbrella of fighting terrorism, the most basic civil liberties are to be targeted.  


President Tayyip Erdogan has called for expanding Turkey‘s already overbroad anti-terror statutes.  “Their titles as an MP, an academic, an author, a journalist do not change the fact that they are actually terrorists,” Erdogan said “It’s not only the person who pulls the trigger, but those who made that possible who should also be defined as terrorists….There was no difference between a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims.”  Freedom of expression, already besieged in Turkey, seems likely to be facing a new series of attacks.

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Posted in Academic Freedom, Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Anti-terrorism, Cumhuriyet, Erdogan, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Press, Press Freedom, Terrorism, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,