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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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

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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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Condolence Book for Tahir Elçi

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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]

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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: tkumar@aiusa.org

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.  

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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Syrian Refugee Fadi Mansour: No longer held at the airport, but still at risk

Syrian refugee Fadi Mansour held at Atatürk airport

has been arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport since 15 March 2015. He is at continued risk of being returned to Syria.

The case of Fadi Mansour, who was held in the Ataturk Airport, in Istanbul, for over a year, has garnered international attention.

Kaya Genc, writing in the London Review of Books, describes the conditions that Fadi endured:

Mansour has been detained at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. He is living in the ‘Problematic Passengers Room’. It has no natural light and no beds. The electric lights are kept on around the clock. ‘Sometimes they let me go outside the room for one or two hours,’ he told me. ‘But nothing is different between here and outside.’

I asked him if he could measure the room for me. It is 14 steps wide. ‘They give me three meals a day,’ he said. ‘It’s all junk food.’ Not long ago a Turkish policeman told him to look after himself and eat. ‘During the first eight months, I told my parents that I was visiting Turkey to not let them get worried about me,’ Mansour said. ‘Here nobody had been helpful to me.’

This past weekend, we received the good news that Fadi would no longer be held at the airport.  Unfortunately, he is still in detention and still at risk of being returned to Syria. Amnesty has called on its world-wide membership to continue the campaign for his release.

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Posted in Amnesty International, Deportation, Refugees, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Amnesty issues Urgent Action for Syrian Refugee held at Ataturk Airport

Syrian refugee Fadi Mansour held at Atatürk airport

has been arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport since 15 March 2015. He is at continued risk of being returned to Syria.

For one year now, Syrian refugee Fadi Mansour has been arbitrarily detained at Istanbul’s Ankara Airport.  Today, Amnesty has issued an urgent action calling for his release (earlier this month, Amnesty issued an urgent action in a separate case, a Syrian refugee who has been held at Sabiha Gökçen Airport since 9 November 2015).  In both cases, the refugees are being held in what may amount to inhumane conditions and are at risk of being returned to Syria.

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Amnesty International condemns Ankara bombing

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Ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosion on Kizilay square, a key hub in the city, and television pictures showed burnt-out vehicles including a bus. / AFP / EROL UCEM

Yesterday evening, the streets of Ankara were again shattered by a bomb in the city center.  According to the authorities, as of this morning, 37 people had been killed and over 100 people were injured. 

Amnesty International today issued a public statement condemning the attack, saying, “Nothing can justify intentionally targeting civilians or carrying out indiscriminate attacks. Those responsible for the bombing have shown contempt for the right to life and fundamental principles of humanity.”

Posted in Amnesty International, Terrorism, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Amnesty International condemns take-over of newspaper

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Protestors hold placards reading “free media cannot be silenced” in front of Zaman headquarters on Dec.14, 2014. (Photo: AP)

In a sharply-worded response, Amnesty International described today’s take-over of Zaman newspaper  by court-appointed trustees asthe latest deeply troubling episode in the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media.”

“By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert. Today’s attack is simply the latest salvo in a sustained attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Turkey.

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Staff members and supporters of Zaman newspaper shout slogans and hold placards reading “Free press can not be silenced” during a protest against a raid by counter-terror police in Istanbul on December 14, 2014. AFP: Ozan Kose

Amnesty noted:

Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air, silencing the only national news channel reporting a counter view of the situation in south-eastern Turkey, where round-the-clock curfews were imposed as armed clashes devastated entire towns.

Last October, court-appointed administrators took over media outlets within the Koza İpek group. President Erdogan has even refused to recognize a Constitutional Court ruling releasing the prominent Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The two had been had been imprisoned since November 2015, awaiting trial on charges of assisting a terrorist organization, espionage and revealing confidential documents.

 

Posted in Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, Cumhuriyet, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Press, Kurds, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,