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Amnesty International report slams Turkey over Gezi Park

2 October 2013

Turkey has been accused of gross violation of human rights during the Gezi Park protests which began in May.

Human rights group Amnesty International has published a report titled “Gezi Park protests: Brutal denial of the right to peaceful assembly in Turkey.”

The reports states that the police were guilty of the worst excesses of violence and criticises the failure to prosecute these persons adding that it was those who took part in the protests who were subsequently prosecuted and suffered harassment.

Amnesty International also commented on the democratisation package announced by Prime Minister Erdogan on Monday, stating that the Turkish prime minister had failed to address the human rights violations that occurred during the Gezi Park protests or to take any serious steps to ensure that they will not occur in the future.

Currently 32 police chiefs and 164 members of riot police units are being investigated by the Turkish government on allegations of use of excessive force during protests that spread across Turkey following the Gezi Park demonstration in May. Protesters in Gezi Park were holding peaceful a demonstration against the proposal to destroy the park, one of the last green spaces in Istanbul and build a replica Ottoman barracks in its place. Riot police launched an assault on the demonstrators using tear gas and rubber bullets, triggering protests across Turkey.

Most of the police officers under investigation serve in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Hatay provinces. Those officers are expected to give statements to the inspectors.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologised for the undue and disproportionate force used by police against a group of protesters in Taksim’s Gezi Park in early June.

Demonstrations and police crackdowns fuelled broad condemnation of Prime Minister Erdogan, whom some consider to have become authoritarian in his 10 years in power and whom they accuse of trying to impose his religious and conservative values on a country governed by secular laws.

During the nationwide demonstrations, five protesters were killed and over 5,000 injured. In addition, a police officer died after he fell from a bridge under construction during a police response to protests.

The Turkish Medical Association, based in Ankara, said it had questioned more than 11,000 protesters nationwide who were exposed to tear gas for up to eight hours a day over multiple days during the protests. It said 39 percent complained about continuing effects from the exposure, with 14 percent saying they suffered skin irritations and 10 percent reporting dizziness and balance problems.

Separately, Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based organisation, released a report on the demonstrations saying that 11 people had lost their eyes because tear gas cannisters had been fired at their faces.

During the protests, riot police officers detained dozens of doctors and other medical workers on charges of violating public order.

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