Amnesty accuses Turkey of abuse on 'massive scale'

Human rights widely violated in Gezi Park crackdown

02 October, 20:22

    Turkish riot police arrest a protester during clashes in Istanbul during Gezi Park's protests Turkish riot police arrest a protester during clashes in Istanbul during Gezi Park's protests

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA - Amnesty International released a report Wednesday accusing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government of turning a blind eye to killings, torture, sexual abuse and persecution during the 'brutal' crackdown on Gezi Park protestors. The London-based organisation said human rights abuses had occurred ''on a massive scale''. Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's head expert on Turkey, spoke out against ''the wholesale denial of the right to peaceful assembly and violations of the rights to life, liberty and the freedom from torture and ill-treatment''. Hundreds of thousands of youths took part in the large anti-Erdogan protests held in June, demanding more democracy and speaking out against the re-Islamicisation of the country underway. Erdogan's merciless crackdown had a heavy toll: six dead and 8,000 injured, ten of whom lost their sight after being hit to the head by tear gas canisters or to the face by rubber bullets shot point-blank. One 14-year-old boy is still in a coma, and some 5,000 were arrested. About 1,000 will be charged, according to press reports, some of whom for ''terrorism''. The Islamic prime minister has often lashed out at the peaceful demonstrators, calling them ''vandals'' and ''terrorists''. Amnesty noted that little had been done to bring the perpetrators of abuse to justice, while thousands of protestors had instead been arrested and hundreds might have to stand trial simply for organising or taking part in a protest. Moreover, it said, journalists, doctors and lawyers who documented what happened, helped the protestors or stood up for their rights have been arrested, beaten, threatened or harassed. And despite the ''systematic abuse'', the authorities continue to praise the police, with Erdogan even calling the police efforts ''legendary''.

    One of the stories Amnesty cited was that of Ethem Sarisuluk, a 22-year-old Alevi worker who was shot in the head on June 1 and died on June 14. The policeman who shot him was charged a month later only for ''manslaughter due to excessive self-defence''. Ethem's family have said they have been subject to police pressure and intimidation to withdraw the report. Two witnesses have been arrested and Ethem's father reported to the police for writing a protest slogan on a wall when the boy was dying. Amnesty International said that it had received reports of harassment and sexual assault by the police against those arrested, with several accounts of women threatened with rape.

    It cited the cases of two girls who publicly denounced the incidents, but said that it was likely that the number of actual incidents of physical, sexual and verbal abuse was much higher than that reported.(ANSAmed).

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