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

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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

Briefing about Recent Protests in Turkey 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

 

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

Boston, MA, July 29, 2013 – Bostonbul (www.bostonbul.org) and a panel of experts will be discussing the recent protests in Turkey with introduction from Representative Denise Provost. The discussion will focus on why the protests started, how they developed into country-wide demonstrations and the human rights violations during and after the protests. The discussion panel will include Lenore G. Martin, Ph. D., Professor of Political Science at Emmanuel College, and a number of experts, some of whom witnessed the protests. 

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. 

  • 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 police have systematically used tear gas as a weapon on demonstrators, firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters 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.
  • The police have beaten and illegally detained hundreds of people, including journalists who are covering the events and the lawyers representing the detained protesters and/ or supporting the protest themselves.
  • 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 composed 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

Nobel Laureates Condemn Turkish Government’s Treatment of Protesters and Doctors

New York City, July 18 – Several world-renown scientists have expressed their concerns over the excessive use of tear gas and police force in the recent protests in Turkey. In a correspondence to be published in Science on July 19, twenty-five scientists, including four Nobel laureates, urged the Turkish government to treat peaceful protesters according to international law. On Thursday, July 18, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the Transnational Work Group on Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GIT – North America) and the primary authors of the Science article will hold a press conference at the New School University in New York City in order to draw attention to ongoing human rights violations in Turkey.

Nobel laureates Robert F. Curl (in Chemistry, 1996), Paul Greengard (in Physiology or Medicine, 2000), Roald Hoffmann (in Chemistry, 1981) and Richard R. Schrock (in Chemistry, 2005) joined numerous other noted scientists to address the ongoing events in Turkey from a scientific perspective. They document how the Turkish government’s excessive and unlawful use of force against protesters and medical professionals has led to human casualties and injuries of unprecedented proportions. Such a correspondence among science and medical professionals is viewed as an indicator of the severity of human rights violations and the urgency to take action.

Triggered by the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters on May 31, approximately 2.5 million people joined demonstrations in 79 out of 81 cities of Turkey according to government estimates. The Turkish government has responded to the mass protests with increasing use of tear gas and police violence, resulting in more injuries and casualties. According to latest data released by the Turkish Medical Association on July 15, 8163 people have so far been injured during these protests; of these 63 are severely wounded and three are in critical condition. 106 individuals have suffered head traumas. Eleven people have lost an eye and five have been killed.

Hospitals and makeshift infirmaries have also been targeted by the police with tear gas fired into confined spaces where the injured were being treated’. Medical supplies have been confiscated by the police and many health-care professionals have been taken into custody. The government has also put the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) under extensive pressure, especially through the arrest of the Secretary General of TTB-Istanbul, to conceal data regarding injuries and deaths during protests. Nevertheless, the TTB has remained the only reliable source concerning this information. In a clear breach of patient confidentiality, the Ministry of Health went as far as to demand patient information from medical facilities, including the names and health conditions of patients injured during the protests, and the identity of the healthcare workers who volunteered for these services. These unconstitutional demands by the government have prevented thousands of injured protesters from seeking much-needed medical attention due to the fear of blacklisting by the Erdogan administration.

The Turkish Medical Association has conducted a web-based survey with 11,115 participants to get a better understanding of the complications experienced by individuals exposed to chemical agents. This investigation revealed that the majority of individuals affected were women and young people between the ages of 20-29. Seven percent of all injuries resulted from direct and short-range firing of tear gas canisters at protesters, including shots to critical regions such as the face, head and chest. Approximately 68 percent of those affected by tear gas were exposed to extremely high levels, however only five percent of all individuals exposed to these chemical agents have sought treatment.

The Ministry of Interior and the Turkish National Police have been unresponsive to requests to disclose the types and constituents of chemicals used, even though such information is vital for the effective treatment of those affected. The Chamber of Chemical Engineers in Istanbul has recently carried out a study testing various types of tear gas on mice and reported the lethal concentration and dose of these chemical agents. Given the short-range and long-term exposure of protesters to these chemical agents, it is critical that their health is monitored on a continuous basis. Since the medical implications of uncontrolled and excessive exposure to chemical agents are under-investigated and potentially lethal, there is an urgent need to stop the use of these agents.

Various non-governmental organizations have repeatedly voiced concerns over the excessive use of force by the police as well as the unconstitutional actions of the government. The World Medical Association has supported these efforts through letters addressed to the Prime Minister, condemning the use of excessive force and chemical agents against the public. On July 1, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) sent a letter to the Minister of Health to express their deep concern over the ministry’s efforts to pass legislation that would prevent medical personnel from providing emergency care to anyone in need, including demonstrators. On July 12, PHR, the World Medical Association, German Medical Association and the Standing Committee of European Doctors sent a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister calling upon him and his government to end human rights violations including the use of tear gas and unlawful acts against medical personnel. In this letter, the international community is asked to ban the sale of tear gas to Turkey and ensure that policy decisions regarding human rights protections and respect for medical neutrality are guaranteed.

In the meantime, over 4,000 academics from around the world hailing from more than 500 academic institutions in about 70 countries have signed a declaration to condemn the excessive police brutality on peaceful demonstrators and have expressed their support for the free exercise of constitutional rights. The declaration prepared by ‘International Solidarity with Gezi Boston Group: Bostonbullular’ and ‘The Transnational Work Group of Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GIT-NA)’, condemns the immense violence practiced by the Turkish police that resulted in casualties and thousands of injured; the improper detention of the protesters who are using their constitutional rights; the violation of human rights during arrests; censorship in the mainstream media and the denigrating and marginalizing discourse of the government. The signatories emphasize that freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience and any other differences in nondiscriminatory opinions are essential in any democratic society.

As academics, scientists and intellectuals; we once again condemn the reckless and excessive use of force and chemical agents against peaceful demonstrators and health personnel in Turkey. We demand that the government immediately cease the use of these chemical agents against peaceful protesters to avoid further health problems and deaths.

 

Press Conference Details

Location: The New School, Wolff Conference Room, 6 East 16th St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10011

Date & Time: July 18, 7pm

 

About

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Turkish Medical Association (TTB) is the organized voice of physicians in Turkey under the constitutional guarantee. %80 (83.000) of country’s physicians are members of TTB. Main income source of TTB is membership fees and it does not get any aid from government. TTB was founded to protect and improve the public health conditions in Turkey and advocates equal, accessible and high quality health care for everyone. TTB investigates malpractice cases in order to protect patient’s rights and professional ethics. TTB protects the morals and rights of profession and members. TTB is one of the founder members of Associations of Health Profession Groups (Turkish Dental Association, Turkish Pharmacists’ Association, Turkish Veterinary Medical Association). At the international level, TTB is the member of the forum that is comprised of World Medical Association, The Association for Medical Education in Europe and World Health Organization and participates in its meetings as an active member. See more on: http://www.ttb.org.tr/

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. It was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to stop human rights violations. See more on: http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/

Transnational Work Group on Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey (GIT North America) is composed of academics from Turkey living in the United States and aims to raise awareness and offer documentation on “Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey.” (see more on: http://gitamerica.blogspot.com/)

Harvard Square Candle Vigil Press Release

We stand in solidarity with the protestors in Turkey, who are using their rights to peaceful assembly to fight for democracy and freedom of expression. They have been subject to immense police violence. We are commemorating the lives lost, people who are disabled, injured, assaulted, ill-treated or arrested, and grieve with their family and friends.

What started on Monday, May 27, as a movement to peacefully protest the demolition of a public park and its replacement with a shopping mall and old military barracks, has turned into a mass struggle of people in Turkey for human rights, for freedom of expression, and for democracy. Throughout the past 7 weeks, millions of people have joined the movement in many cities across Turkey. The immense on-going violence practiced by the Turkish police cannot be justified in any way.

According to the report by Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and the Turkish Medical Association, “the police have systematically used tear gas as a weapon on hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, firing tear gas canisters and capsules directly at protestors at close range and in closed spaces and other areas with no outlet for escape. Some 130,000 canisters have reportedly been used against protestors. The police have fired rubber bullets and live ammunition directly at protestors at close range, used water cannons spiked with tear gas and other chemicals, and beaten and illegally detained hundreds of protestors. As of July 2, 2013 The Turkish Medical Association collected medical information on more than 8000 injuriesdue to tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, beatings and live ammunition. 61 protestors have been seriously wounded, 104 with head trauma and 11 others have lost their eyes. There have been 5 civilian deathsand 2 still in critical conditioncaused by unnecessary and/or excessive use of force against protestors and other demonstration related injuries. As of July 10, 2013, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey had conducted approximately 200 medical evaluations of injured protestors in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol standards. The physical and psychological evidence in each case is consistent with torture and/ or ill treatment. In addition the police and other law enforcement officials have deliberately attacked clearly identifiable, independent medical personal and medical facilities with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. Police have beaten and illegally detained dozens of physicians and other medical personnel for providing emergency medical care to those injured by the police.” This immense violence against the people of Turkey who are using their rights to peaceful protest is unacceptable.

In addition to this direct violence, thousands of peoplesupporting the people’s movement have been detained and blacklistedfor expressing their opinions, including those who are charged for speaking out through social media. Peaceful expression of opinions is a constitutional right in Turkey, much like in any democratic country. Among those who are blacklisted and were subject to ill treatment by the law enforcement in their detention were the members of Taksim Solidarity, formed by over 100 different NGOs and professional associations, such as the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, Turkish Medical Association, several workers’ unions, LGBTQ communities, political parties, students’ and artists’ organizations, cutting across all class, ethnicity, gender, age and sexuality lines.

The resistance movement has created an atmosphere of open exchange and plurality in Turkey –an atmosphere, against which the increasing number of human rights violations, accompanied by a culture of fear and oppression, stands in jarring contrast. We hereby reaffirm that the freedom of thought, expression, and conscience, as well as the recognition and acceptance of difference, are essential in any democratic society. It is our duty to remind the Turkish government of its obligations under international law to respect the basic rights of the people.

We also condemn the silence, inconsistency, and bias of the mainstream media in Turkey. The people of Turkey have the right to a free press and the right to fully follow these events, in which thousands of people partake. We reject Prime Minister Erdogan’s discourse that is denigrating and marginalizing the protesters. We emphasize that this is a democratic movement. Congruent with the demands of the protestors in Turkey,

  • We demand that Gezi remain a park;
  • Continuing repression and police brutality end immediately;
  • The constitutional rights of those in custody be protected and their medical needs be met;
  • Those who were taken into custody for exercising their right to peacefully and publicly protest be immediately released;
  • Those responsible for the disproportionate use of police power and those who condoned the violence be held accountable;
  • A participatory culture of democracy be established and sustained.

We wish the people who have been subjected to violence a fast recovery. We send our condolences to the families of the deceased.