As protests – and evidence of excessive police force – again sweep across Turkey, Amnesty International has issued a press release to call attention to the on-going human rights abuses there.
Central to this latest statement is a call for “[All] countries to suspend shipments of tear gas, armoured vehicles and other riot control projectile equipment to Turkey until the Turkish authorities can guarantee protesters’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”In the wake of another death of a protestor, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher stated:
The Turkish police’s return to the abusive use of force in response to demonstrations underscores the need for all countries to suspend shipments of tear gas and other riot control projectile equipment and armoured policing vehicles to Turkey, until steps are taken to prevent such deaths and injuries
The cause of Ahmet Atakan’s death is still disputed. Authorities claim that he died when he fell from a building. Some eyewitnesses report that he was fatally struck in the head with a gas canister. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that the investigation is prompt, impartial and effective.
What is not in dispute is that Turkish authorities have continued to employ excessive force against peaceful protestors and have continued to restrict basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly. They have repeatedly used tear gas and other materials improperly, risking the health and welfare of their own citizens. They have consistently failed to properly investigate widespread abuses.
Turkey’s partners must make clear that these abuses must end. And they should suspend shipments of these materials until Turkey has taken the necessary steps to end them.
Assistant Professor of Middle East History
St. Lawrence University