We Demand an Immediate End to the State Terror in Turkey

On September 9, 2013 Ahmet Atakan, aged 22, was murdered by the police forces during a peaceful protest. He was shot in the head with a teargas canister, a ‘common practice’ by the Turkish police, which is in clear violation of its internationally recognized use as a non-lethal crowd disperser. Since the beginning of peaceful Gezi protests in early June, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, Abdullah Cömert, Ethem Sarısülük, Ali Ismail Korkmaz and Medeni Yıldırım were killed by the Turkish police forces. Selim Önder, Irfan Tuna and Zeynep Eryaşar died due to teargas overexposure.

The Turkish government, the most fierce proponent of an international military intervention into Syria, has taken it upon herself to suppress civil liberties and spread violence within and without Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria in past few years and millions of people have been displaced and forced to take refuge in neighboring countries. People of Turkey continue to protest against the government warmongering in Syria and the oppression of their civil liberties in Turkey.

We are gathering to protest the violence perpetrated by the Erdogan government against peaceful protesters in Turkey and the innocent population of Syria.

“When the government targets the right to live, life itself becomes resistance to the government”

 

Press Announcement after Briefing Recent Protests in Turkey that Sheds Light on Police Brutality and Human Rights Violations

Media Contact –Gaye Ozpinar / Fusun H. Tufan  – Tel: (641) 715- 3900 x 677028# – info@bostonbul.org

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

July 30, 2013, 11am, State House (Room 437), 24 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Today, Bostonbul (www.bostonbul.org) and a panel of experts discussed the recent protests in Turkey with introduction from Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville) and Representative Denise Andrews (D-Orange). The discussion focused on why the protests started, how they developed into country-wide demonstrations and resulted in police brutality and human rights violations.

Rep. Provost spoke about her trip to Turkey in 2012 when she visited several cities across Turkey including the areas of Istanbul where protests recently took place and how she was impressed with the hospitality of Turkish people. Gaye Ozpinar, Esq. explained that the movement that started in Turkey on May 27 as peaceful protests against the demolition of a public park has turned into a mass struggle for human rights and democracy. Throughout the past 2 months, millions of people have joined the movement in many cities of Turkey and abroad.  She explained that unnecessary and excessive use of tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, beatings and live ammunition has led to 5 civilian deaths and more than 8000 injuries.

The discussion panel included Lenore G. Martin, Ph. D., Professor of Political Science at Emmanuel College who has summarized the developments within the last few years that were clear indicators of the recent protests in Turkey and the reaction from the government. Alp Simsek, Assistant Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, emphasized that the misrepresentation of information in Turkey is rampant. He gave the example that the government deliberately miscalculates the economic growth rate of Turkey — not adjusting for inflation and not measuring it in Turkey’s own currency — which produces an incredibly high number that exceeds even the growth rate of China.

Selen Yanmaz, Doctoral Student and Teaching Fellow in Sociology, Boston College and Ezgi Hacisuleyman, Doctoral Student in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University spoke about their own experience during the protests and public forums in Istanbul. They have observed firsthand how peaceful the protests had started and the police brutality afterwards. They have experienced the use of water cannons spiked with dangerous chemicals that burnt skin on contact and their friends were beaten and detained by the police.  Even bystanders or residents of certain Istanbul neighborhoods are being affected by the police brutality.

During the last two months, the police have systematically used tear gas as a weapon on demonstrators, firing tear gas canisters directly at protestors at close range and in closed spaces. Over 130,000 tear gas canisters have reportedly been used. Police and other law enforcement officials have deliberately attacked independent medical personnel and facilities and beaten and detained dozens of medical personnel for providing emergency medical care to those injured. In addition to this direct violence, thousands of people supporting the people’s movement have been detained and blacklisted for expressing their opinions.

This legislative briefing is one in a series of events Bostonbul is organizing to raise awareness about these issues. Bostonbul is comprised of Massachusetts residents who aim to support civil liberties, democracy and human rights by promoting open dialogue.

 

Letter to Prime Minister Erdogan by health and human rights organizations:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/PHR_other/Letter-to-PM-Erdogan-July2013.pdf

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) : journalists detained, beaten, obstructed in Istanbul

http://www.cpj.org/2013/06/journalists-detained-beaten-obstructed-in-istanbul.php  

CPJ: Several Journalists fired, forced to resign in Turkey

http://www.cpj.org/2013/07/several-journalists-fired-forced-to-resign-in-turk.php

The International Federation for Human Rights: New blow to rule of law in Turkey

http://www.fidh.org/new-blow-to-rule-of-law-in-turkey-more-than-50-lawyers-arrested-for-13438

Turkey Must End Violent Response to Protests

http://www.sciencemag.org

Press Release at Boston Consulate of Turkey Protest

To The Members of the Press, International Human Rights Organizations, and the People of Boston,

We are students, academics, intellectuals, artists, workers, business people and citizens of Boston. We are here today to show our continued solidarity with our friends in Turkey who, as a reaction to their mass protests, have been subjected to immense police brutality by the Erdogan/AKP administration.

Since Monday, May 27th, what has started as a movement to peacefully protest the demolition of a public park and its replacement with a shopping mall, turned into a mass struggle of people of Turkey. It has become the struggle for human rights, freedom of expression and a participatory democratic culture. Throughout the past 10 days, hundreds of thousands of people have joined the movement in many cities across Turkey and around the world. Turkish police have continuously subjected the protestors to immense violence including excessive use of water cannons, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings, causing three confirmed deaths and at least 2000 injured with many more affected by gas on the streets and at their homes. More specifically, the tear gas canisters have been targeted for shooting people. There have been thousands of people detained including people who express their opinions via Twitter. This ongoing disproportionate reaction and atrocious violence by the government against its own citizens cannot be justified in any way.

We are outraged by the magnitude of human rights violations and the increasing fear and oppression culture in Turkey. The Turkish constitution guarantees the right to peacefully demonstrate and to voice one’s opinion about matters of public policy. We are here to reaffirm that the freedom of thought and expression, and the differences in opinions are essential in any democratic society. We are here to remind the Turkish Government its obligations under international law to respect human rights, including but not limited to women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, minority rights, animal rights and the right to a sustainable environment. Rights that our brothers and sisters are defending with their lives in Turkey. Even now, as these massive protests are going on, the parliament, with a majority of AKP members, is using these events as a distraction for the people and is working on passing laws that will harm the environment even further. But, we are watching!

We also condemn the inconsistency and bias of the mainstream media. While we are following the news through social media and foreign news agencies, Turkey’s mainstream media’s downplay of the events is astonishing as well as extremely concerning. The people of Turkey have a right to a free press.

The government spokespeople’s and prime minister Erdogan’s attempts to marginalize the protestors and the movement as the act of a certain group or ideology is futile. This is a movement of the people of Turkey. We are calling on the international community to support the rights of the people to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in Turkey. In line with the demands of Gezi Park protestors in Turkey, we demand an immediate end to the oppression and police brutality on the streets and elsewhere, not only in Istanbul but also in other provinces around Turkey, primarily including Antakya, Dersim, Izmir and Ankara as of today. We demand that all those injured have prompt access to medical care. We demand that human rights safeguards during arrest and detention be upheld and we demand that our friends all across the country, who are already detained for having protested in peace, be released immediately. We demand those responsible for the brutality to be held accountable. We demand the establishment and maintenance of a participatory democracy, respectful to the people’s rights and freedoms. To our friends, brothers and sisters in Turkey: let our voice echo your struggle! In solidarity…