Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2016, 16:22 GMT

Turkey: IHD/State intervention to social demonstrations that began with the Taksim Gezi Park: Resistance has reached the scale of an atrocity!

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 5 June 2013
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Turkey: IHD/State intervention to social demonstrations that began with the Taksim Gezi Park: Resistance has reached the scale of an atrocity!, 5 June 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51cc38c218.html [accessed 1 October 2016]
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Last Update 5 June 2013

Statement of THE HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION (FIDH member organisation in Turkey)/ INSAN HAKLARI DERNEGI Turkey

Following the legal and legitimate reaction by the people of Istanbul to the continuing pedestrianization project in Istanbul Taksim Gezi Park, and the planned construction of the Topçu Kışlası (Taksim Military Barracks) and Shopping Centre, the police carried out, with the approval of the political authority, heavy attacks that cannot merely be described as "extreme/disproportionate/immoderate". It is necessary to first and foremost state that the right to convene and demonstrate is a basic human right. The use of this right by legitimate means must never be prevented by police force of this scale.

This action does not belong to a single political party or organization. It is a spontaneous action which reflects, onto the street, the sum of all the past and present unjust treatments suffered by environmentally sensitive sections of society that have been ignored, whose freedoms have been restricted and whose right to life has been violated. Social demonstrations are the product of a shared reaction against the state's and political authorities' attacks against human dignity.

For the last few days, in the streets of Ankara, the police has launched gas bombs made of chemical agents into closed areas including cafes, associations, businesses! There are claims that illegal chemical agents such as orange gas that can cause permanent damage has been used, and these claims need to be investigated. The police has carried out targeted, potentially lethal attacks, and these attacks continue at the present moment. In Ankara, a car that departed from among a group of police was driven into the crowd on the pretext that it was to 'pick up wounded protesters', ran over people and returned at the same speed to the police line, and escaped; leaving many people wounded in its wake. Civilian fascists attacked demonstrators with the support of the police, and according to the Turkish Medical Association's statement dated 3 June 2013, there are thousands of injured; with 7 seriously injured, 1485 injured in Istanbul; 15 seriously injured, 515 injured in Ankara; and 2 seriously injured, 800 injured in izmir. In Ankara only, in the last two days, 15 of the injured face a threat to their life, with two in critical condition! Press reports state that in Istanbul, the demonstrator Mehmet Ayvataş died after being hit by a car, and that in Hatay, the young demonstrator Abdullah Cömert died after being shot by the police. In Ankara, Ethem Sarısülük, a human rights activist, is fighting for his life in intensive care after being shot in the head by security forces. We demand the immediate arrest of security forces and other individuals who carried out the attacks against Cömert and Sarısülük.

In Ankara, from May 31 to June 2, a total of 791 people were detained – 47 of them by the Anti-Terror Branch. Until now, around 500 have been released, while around 300 people remain in detainment. It has been determined that those under detention are being kept in sports halls. Wounded protesters fear to seek help in hospitals fearing detention. Around 50 of the detained are children and have not been taken to the Children's Branch Directorate. No information is being given to the families of the detained. Many families are currently searching for their children.

In the face of unlawful acts and rights' violations on such a scale, the indifferent and ignorant stance of a large section of the media is also striking. We human rights' defenders view this attitude of the media as a clear violation of press freedom and the public's right to receive information.

As if the deaths, injuries and mass detainments as a result of state intervention to social demonstrations weren't enough, if the treatment of the injured is being prevented, and the doctors who want to treat the injured, and the lawyers who want to provide legal support are taken into detention, and human rights defenders who try to document and determine the violations are attacked, if the demands of lawyers for legal supports to the victims are arbitrarily prevented particularly by Anti-Terror Branch Police, the sum of all this can only be described as state terror. The AKP has become the state, and the state has become AKP. The authoritarian-oppressive character of the state and the AKP is the greatest obstacle in front of freedoms. We condemn this mentality and its actions.

All statements by the Prime Minister, the main representative of the political authority, are the outcome of a singular mentality. The type of "majority democracy" that describes those who think differently as "a few plunderers" is the kind of authoritarian democracy, which has long been cast into the dustbin of history! This singular view is the greatest obstacle in front of peace, the most urgent need of this land. This mentality also threatens the continuing peace process, and prepares a ground open to provocations. The By stating "We are having difficulty holding 50% of the population in their homes" in reference to his presumed voter base, the Prime Minister openly threatens social peace.

We believe that the authoritarian mentality that has no respect for human rights and democracy is responsible of all these events, and of those that will take place from now on!

The detained must be released immediately.

Security forces that carry out unlawful interventions, and torture, injuries and violations of the right to life must be effectively investigated and prosecuted.

The Taksim Gezi Park project must be abolished.

The use of gas bombs must be prohibited by law.

Meeting and demonstration bans in public spaces and in all squares in Turkey, and first and foremost Taksim, must be terminated.

The government must apologize from the people, the Interior Minister and all other accountable figures of authority must resign, or be relieved of duty.

The Prime Minister should abandon making statements that will further strain society and may threaten social peace, and take the demands of society into account.

Never forget: Human dignity will overcome all forms of oppression.

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