If you’ve seen the news in recent days, then you would know that in Turkey peaceful protests against the destruction of the last remaining green areas of Istanbul have been met by hostile and violent responses from police. While Intrepid travellers and staff are all safe and there is no risk of injury unless you go into these demonstration areas, we are very concerned that Turkish authorities have used excessive force to respond to a local protest. We’ve spoken today with Caglar from our Istanbul office for an on-the-street report…
“It started as a peaceful demonstrations in Istanbul against a government eager to demolish a public park in the heart of Istanbul, Taksim Square. After that moment, thousands started to march Taksim Square but most of them could not get even close due to the attacks of the police force. The police used the Mass Incident Intervention Vehicle, tear gas and water cannons against thousands of protesters who camped out in the park to make their peaceful demonstration. This was happened for the three days. On Saturday afternoon police moved out of Gezi Park, but now police are getting more aggressive in Besiktas area. Believe or not, Turkish mainstream media does not show any of the incidents happening. Now, we need your help.”
Amnesty International is also calling for Turkish authorities to end its brutal repression of peaceful protests and initiate investigations into well-founded allegations of police brutality. “Excessive use of force by police officers can be routine in Turkey but the excessively heavy-handed response to the entirely peaceful protests in Taksim has been truly disgraceful. It has hugely inflamed the situation on the streets of Istanbul where scores of people have been injured,” said John Dalhusien, Director of Amnesty International for Europe.
“It is clear that the use of force by police is being driven not by the need to respond to violence – of which there has been very little on the part of protesters – but by a desire to prevent and discourage protest of any kind,” said Dalhusien.
We appreciate that this is a complex situation, with many recent events and government decisions adding to community frustration – but the Turkish government must allow peaceful protests to proceed and ensure the security of demonstrators and the public in general.
You can find more information on the Amnesty International Blog about steps you can take to help halt police repression in Turkey.