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Turkey: end violent repression, allow free expression

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This SMS action is now closed, however, we will monitor the situation and let you know if further mass action is required. Please feel free to continue to send your own letters using the details in the casesheet. (Download the casesheet)

Update, 21 June: As reports of violence and intimidation continues, we've a new update from our researcher Andrew Gardner. Please continue to take action and put pressure on the authorities to allow peaceful protest.

Update, 17June: Shocking violence continued throughout the weekend, as Gezi Park was cleared with bulldozers. Police also fired tear gas, water cannon and flash bangs at protesters in Taksim Square. Our researcher was in the Square says that the protests were peaceful and this violent intervention unjustified.

We are seriously concerned by reports that many men and women arrested at these protests are now being held in secret detention, denied access to their families and to lawyers. Read our full response to this secret detention

On 27 May, a few hundred activists gathered in Gezi Park, one of the few green spaces in the centre of Istanbul, to protest against its planned destruction to make way for a shopping centre. A couple of days later, in the early hours of 29 May, police began to disperse the protestors, using excessive force.

Word spread and thousands more people joined the demonstrators.  They too were met with tear gas, water cannon and beatings. As police cleared the park in the early hours of Friday morning (31 May) scores were injured. Yet the violent crackdown didn’t deter people. As Gezi Park was cleared, people moved to nearby Taksim Square which has become a focal point for the protests.

This SMS action is now closed, however, we will monitor the situation and let you know if further mass action is required. Please feel free to continue to send your own letters using the details in the casesheet. (Download the casesheet)

As the weekend went on the protests spread across Turkey to the capital, Ankara, and beyond as people have given voice to wide-ranging frustrations. The country’s unions have also now called a general strike to protest against the treatment of demonstrators.

By Sunday, we had reports of hundreds of separate protests across 67 provinces of Turkey – and of at least 2,000 people injured: 1500 of them in Istanbul, 400 in Ankara and another 420 in Izmir. This injured now number over 7,000. The Turkish Medical Association says that the vast majority of these injuries were caused by tear gas and water cannons.

This isn’t the first time the Istanbul authorities have cracked down violently on peaceful protest, but the heavy-handed response we have seen over the last few days has been truly disgraceful

Tear gas, water cannons and beatings

Staff and activists from our Istanbul office were at the original Gezi Park protests as observers. They too were tear-gassed and beaten with truncheons. Our offices close to Taksim Square have become both a refuge and temporary medical centre for protestors sheltering from the violence.

Video evidence shows police deliberately firing tear gas canisters at protestors.  We believe some have lost their sight as a result.  People have told us of security forces setting off tear gas in enclosed spaces such as metro stations and inside buildings, which can cause long term health problems.

Dozens of amateur videos taken at the demonstrations show officials hitting, kicking and beating protestors including those who have passed out from the effects of the tear gas. Moreover, we’ve heard reports that injured demonstrators have been prevented from receiving medical treatment and locked in a cell when they should have been found a hospital bed.

This SMS action is now closed, but please continue to send your own letters using the details in the casesheet. (Download the casesheet)

What is excessive force?

Under international human rights standards (the United Nations Principles on the use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, to be exact) police and security forces may only disperse a protest as a last resort.  

They must avoid the use of force wherever possible and, where it is absolutely necessary to do so (to protect themselves and other members of the public from violent protestors), restrict its use as far as possible.  They must never use excessive force against peaceful protestors.

The current crackdown threatens to stifle women and men’s rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Turkey has signed up to. And it is not a one-off. Just last month we were concerned by the authorities’ attempts to prevent May Day demonstrations in Istanbul, and the excessive force used against demonstrators.

This SMS action is now closed, but please continue to send your own letters using the details in the casesheet. (Download the casesheet)

What will we do with your name?

We will add your name, but not your phone number to the following appeal, which we will fax to the Turkish authorities, calling on them to:

  • immediately end the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors;
  • ensure the right to freedom of expression and assembly;
  • and urging for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force  and bring to justice law enforcement officials found to have ill-treated demonstrators or other members of the public.

Prefer to write your own letter? You can download a copy of our urgent action casesheet below

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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How can I provide my name? I want to sign

zeynepsezgin 11 years ago

Thanks so much, i have been sharing this and i hope you are now getting responses. I have even managed one of the celebrities (Russell Brand) to RT my tweet about this. He has 6.5 million followers! Thank you, thank you!

mugecetinkaya 11 years ago

I strongly believe that any action that impairs human rights must be condemned.

Thank you very much for all your support!

Arzu Gunaydin

arzu.gunaydin 11 years ago

Article 2: Right to Life

Article 3: Inhuman treatment

Article 5: Right to Liberty

Article 7: Retrospective crimes

Article 9: Freedom of conscience

Article 10: Freedom of Expression

Article 11: Freedom of Assembly

Article 14: Discrimination

Surely the ECHR judges can see that Turkey is VIOLATING above conventions in every sense of the word. This so called CROOKED government headed by the biggest LYING CROOK OF ALL TIMES should be brought before a court to answer these actions.

Following are the questions that need answering by the Turkish Government as a matter of urgency;

1.) Can ERDOGAN define what he means when he repeatedly says " THE OTHER 50% " ARTICLE 14

2.) How can the Governor of Istanbul without the relevant authority, order the police attack innocent citizen of Turkey for exercising their most basic rights? ARTICLE 11

3.) How can police be allowed to break the windows of a family house and throw gas into the premises? ARTICLE 8

4.) The police has killed protesters with discharged gas canister shells and deprived those individuals of their lives and no one has made any satisfactory explanation from the government? ARTICLE 2

5.) People in masses have been arrested without any justification and have been deprived of their liberty and subjected to inhumane treatment through TORTURE, what is the justification for these? ARTICLE 5 & 7

6.) ERDOGAN has directly attacked Alevis trying to imply that they are a separated ethnic minority in Turkey? ARTICLE 9 & 14

7) ERDOGAN and his WHITE DOGS ( AKP supporters who has been attacking people with sticks alongside the police) has been violating people's right to Freedom Of Assembly by attacking them, is this NOT a crime? ARTICLE 11

8.) It is an International agreement that in all cases where FORCE is used it should be assessed if there is JUSTIFICATION for that FORCE; normally 4 questions asked; P-L-A-N ? Was the FORCE used against those individuals exercising their legal rights;


I have doubt that Turkish authorities has a justification for any of those above. The force used against ORDINARY UNTRAINED people CAN NOT BE JUSTIFIED because it is NOT;

LEGAL, or:

I therefor urge everyone to sign up the petition to take AKP government to ECHR to answer for their unjustified actions over the last 12 days.

muratyildirim 11 years ago

Last night 15th June 2013 Turkish Police in Turkey using chemical weapons against peaceful demonstrators. Announce your whole world

La policía turca en Turquía con armas químicas contra manifestantes pacíficos. Anunciar todo el mundo
پلیس ترکیه در ترکیه با استفاده از سلاح های شیمیایی علیه تظاهر کنندگان مسالمت جو. اعلام تمام جهان را به خود

Die türkische Polizei verwendet chemische Waffen gegen friedliche Demonstranten. Berichtet davon der ganzen Welt!

serpilserle_1 11 years ago

I have heard from my close friends in Turkey that police is filling Toma (large police vehicle used as water cannon) with acidic solution and spraying on peaceful demonstrators causing burning type of injury. Also the doctors who are treating the demonstrators are getting arrested, pepper spray gas is used in hospitals. The police attack in Ankara is particularly bad, people are seriously injured as a result of beatings by the police. There is no point of sharing these news with Turkish authorities, as they are ordering the use of excessive and brutal force. Please USA and Europe, take action now. Please stop selling Turkey weapons and tear gas, please freeze all MP's and PM's foreign(non-Turkey based) assets now. Suspend all investments and projects. Action please not words!

Orla Darling 11 years ago