Amnesty issues report on displacement of hundreds of thousands in Turkey

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

Amnesty International has just issued an extensive and deeply researched 31 page report detailing “the desperate  plight of families forced out of the historical centre of Diyarbakir” through massive security operations and round-the-clock curfews.  “Homes in the once-bustling district have been destroyed by shelling, demolished and expropriated to pave the way for a redevelopment project that very few former residents are likely to benefit from,” the report says.

“On the bitter anniversary of the curfew in Sur, much of the population of this world heritage site have been forced to look on as their own heritage has been bulldozed,” said John Dalhuisen.

Dalhuisen continuted:

Shockingly, the desperate situation facing the displaced residents of Sur is mirrored in dozens of other districts across south-east Turkey. The government must act urgently to lift the curfew, ensure affected communities are fully compensated and either helped to return to what remains of their homes or, at the very least, to their neighbourhoods.

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The Purge Continues: Amnesty Responds to Closure of Turkish NGOs

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

Amnesty International responded quickly to the news today that 375 NGOs would be closed under Turkey’s state of emergency powers,  with Amnesty’s John Dalhuisen calling it”part of an ongoing and systematic attempt by the Turkish authorities to permanently silence all critical voices.”

Dalhuisen went on to say:

The closures include lawyers’ associations working on torture, women’s rights organizations running shelters for survivors of domestic violence, local humanitarian organizations providing aid to refugees and internally displaced persons, and Turkey’s leading children’s rights NGO.

Civil society organizations must be allowed to continue their crucial work without fear of punishment or reprisals. The work of NGOs like these is especially vital during the ongoing human rights crisis in Turkey, where flagrant misuse of emergency powers has cast a dark shadow over an already ravaged civil society.

Pressekonferenz zu Folter in Usbekistan

John Dalhuisen, Director of the Europe and Central Asia Regional Office

 

 

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Amnesty: HDP deputies detained amid growing onslaught on Kurdish opposition voices

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Turkish police secure the area in front of the headquarters of the HDP during an operation in Ankara on Friday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The detention of 12 deputies from the Kurdish-rooted leftist Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) since last night marks the latest escalation in the onslaught on dissent amid Turkey’s state of emergency, Amnesty International said today.

The detentions – on a range of “terrorism”-related charges – come on the heels of mass closures of Kurdish media outlets, the ousting of at least 24 pro-Kurdish mayors and rolling blackouts on internet access that hinder communications. They were followed this morning by an explosion killing at least eight people in Diyarbakır in the mainly Kurdish south-east of the country.

“Today’s detention of HDP deputies is the latest escalation in the government’s evisceration of Kurdish opposition voices in public life,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

Coming after the blanket closure by executive decree of Turkey’s Kurdish media and the arrests of Diyarbakır’s co-mayors, it gravely undermines the rights to freedom of expression and association and severely restricts the ability to participate in public life. It is an ominous indicator of the road ahead under the state of emergency.

The familiar pattern of arbitrary detentions under trumped-up terrorism charges followed by political show trials must not be allowed to unfold. In the absence of any credible evidence of crimes, they should be immediately released.

Investigations have been initiated against 54 out of 59 deputies from the HDP, the third-largest party in Turkey’s Parliament. Parliamentary immunity was lifted in May in a step seen as enabling the prosecution of the party’s deputies.

Police detain DBP co-chair Tuncel during a protest against the arrest of Kurdish lawmakers, in Diyarbakir

Police detain Sebahat Tuncel, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), during a protest against the arrest of Kurdish lawmakers, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

Twelve deputies from the party have been detained since last night, including the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ who are accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”, a provision routinely used to stifle dissent on Kurdish issues in Turkey. Three deputies have since been released while five have been remanded in pre-trial detention. The party’s head offices in Ankara were also raided by police.

Following the news of the latest detentions, a suspected car bomb was detonated outside police headquarters in Diyarbakır. Eight people were reported killed in the blast including two police officers. No group has yet taken responsibility for the bombing, an outrage that breaches the fundamental principles of international law.
As the detentions took place, social media users in Turkey found that they were not able to access services like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. Access to internet services in general remains limited across Turkey today. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said this afternoon that such measures were “temporary precautions” and would be lifted once “danger is eliminated”.

The detentions come after other moves to oust pro-autonomy political voices from office. In September, 24 elected mayors from pro-autonomy Kurdish parties in the Kurdish-dominated south-east of Turkey were replaced by executive decree and, just last weekend, the HDP co-mayors of the high-profile Diyarbakır Municipality were detained and replaced with a trustee.

Also last weekend, executive decrees have resulted in the blanket closures of media outlets, including the Kurdish daily, Özgür Gündem, the Kurdish language Azadiya Welat and the JINHA women’s news agency, along with local media outlets in the south-east and other opposition media in Turkey.

Posted in Due Process, Erdogan, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression, Kurds, Minorities, Turkey, Uncategorized

Amnesty: Latest detention of journalists a “blatant misuse of powers”

Police officer stands outside the office of Turkish daily

A police officer stands outside the office of Turkish daily ”Cumhuriyet” in Istanbul May 11, 2006. REUTERS/Ugur Demir/Files

In response to this Monday’s detention of 11 journalists and staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper and the shutting down of 15 media outlets over the weekend, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen, said:

Today’s detention of journalists and staff from Turkey’s only remaining mainstream opposition newspaper is part of an ongoing systematic attempt to silence all critical voices. Together with the shutting down of media houses over the weekend, this is the latest wave in a post-coup purge which has turned Turkey’s once vibrant media landscape into a wasteland.
The blatant misuse of emergency powers to shut down media houses must stop and more than 130 journalists currently in pre-trial detention must be immediately released.
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The phrase “We will not surrender” was emblazoned in black on ‘Cumhuriyet’s’ masthead on Tuesday, one day after its editor-in-chief and at least 10 other staff members were detained in a series of police raids. (DW)

Background
Journalism is not a crime, yet the principles of free speech and a free press are threatened across the world. Amnesty International seeks the immediate and unconditional release of individuals who have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free speech.
Every year around Human Rights Day on December 10th, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide write letters, emails, text messages, faxes and tweets on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders and others at risk of human rights violations as part of Write for Rights.
Among other cases, the 2016 Write for Rights campaign calls for Egypt to drop all charges against photojournalist Shawkan, who was jailed for doing his job while covering a peaceful sit-in. Three years later, he is still held in Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison.
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Amnesty: Intensified crackdown on media increases atmosphere of fear

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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.”

CRACKDOWN BY NUMBERS

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.

For details of Amnesty Internationals latest findings visit – https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/turkey-independent-monitors-must-be-allowed-to-access-detainees-amid-torture-allegations/

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Amnesty calls for independent monitors as allegations of torture mount

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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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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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Amnesty: Rights must be respected in aftermath of failed coup

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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.

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

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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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Amnesty: Turkey must protect, not ban Pride marches

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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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