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Probe into police violence at Gezi Park demos

3 September 2013

Police exercised “excessive force” in trying to quell the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul and Izmir, according to a recent report prepared by Interior Ministry inspectors.

The report has asked permission to open preliminary investigations into some of the cases of excessive use of force in Istanbul.

It also wants to investigate plain-clothes police officers who were seen carrying sticks, as well as colleagues who failed to prevent arson at a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) building in Izmir during the Gezi protests.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler allowed the inspectors to conduct a preliminary inspection over the cases in Istanbul, according to Turkish daily ‘Milliyet’. With Guler’s permission, the inspectors will take testimonies from “suspected” police officers.

After testimonies, the inspectors will send their request for an investigation to the Istanbul Governor’s Office, whose permission is necessary to open an investigation against the officers. The inspectors have also opened administrative disciplinary proceedings with Guler’s permission.

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The incidents into which the inspectors will conduct a preliminary inspection include the case of a police officer seen spraying tear gas at Ceyda Sungur, the “woman in red,” in Gezi Park on May 28. A photo of the incident caused an uproar around Turkey and became one of the most enduring images of the protests.

In Izmir, inspectors interviewed plain-clothes officers whose march through the streets with sticks was deemed an excessive use of force.

The inspectors also determined that some high-level police chiefs were involved in unlawful actions, particularly because they permitted police officers to use sticks, which are not among the list of weapons used by police.

The report also criticised plain-clothes officers for not wearing vests identifying them as police officers, while additionally declaring police chiefs negligent for failing to prevent protesters from setting light to an AKP building in Izmir.

The inspectors’ work on incidents in Ankara and Antalya is continuing.

A small group of people protesting the construction of a shopping mall in Taksim’s Gezi Park in May were exposed to police brutality, triggering nationwide protests against police violence for several months.

Five people, including a policeman, have been killed in the protests.

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