Media Contact –Gaye Ozpinar / Fusun H. Tufan – Tel: (641) 715- 3900 x 677028# – firstname.lastname@example.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:
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) : journalists detained, beaten, obstructed in Istanbul
CPJ: Several Journalists fired, forced to resign in Turkey
The International Federation for Human Rights: New blow to rule of law in Turkey
Turkey Must End Violent Response to Protests