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Turkey

    October 31, 2019

    Hundreds of people have been detained in Turkey for commenting or reporting on Turkey’s recent military offensive in northeast Syria and are facing absurd criminal charges as the government intensifies its crackdown on critical voices, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    ‘We can’t complain’ reveals how last month’s offensive – Operation Peace Spring - was accompanied by a wave of repression in Turkey which swept up anyone who deviated from the government’s official line. Journalists, social media users and protesters have been accused of “terrorism” and subjected to criminal investigation, arbitrary detention and travel bans. If prosecuted and found guilty, they could face lengthy prison sentences.

    “As the tanks rolled across the Syrian border, the government took the opportunity to launch a domestic campaign to eradicate dissenting opinions from media, social media and the streets. Critical discussion on issues of Kurdish rights and politics has become even further off limits,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Marie Struthers.

    October 29, 2019

    Pride celebration by Middle East Technical University students, May 2018 © ODTU LGBTI+

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 144/19 HERE

    Eighteen students and one academic from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara who are facing criminal charges for allegedly joining an LGBTI Pride Parade on the university’s campus on 10 May 2019. The trial will start on 12 November. Some of those on trial have stated that they did not participate in the parade and were simply bystanders. No one should be prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Charges against all 19 individuals must be dropped.

    October 24, 2019

    Turkey spent the months leading up to its military incursion into northeast Syria forcibly deporting refugees to the war-torn country, in advance of attempting to create a so-called “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border, a new Amnesty International report ‘Sent to a War Zone: Turkey’s Illegal Deportations Of Syrian Refugees’ has revealed.

    The organization met or spoke with refugees who said Turkish police had beaten or threatened them into signing documents stating they were asking to return to Syria, when in reality Turkey was forcing them back to a war zone and putting their lives in grave danger.

    “Turkey’s claim that refugees from Syria are choosing to walk straight back into the conflict is dangerous and dishonest. Rather, our research shows that people are being tricked or forced into returning,” said Anna Shea, Researcher on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    July 17, 2019

    Following the acquittal of two prominent human rights defenders and a writer prosecuted for participating in a solidarity campaign for a Kurdish daily newspaper, Milena Buyum, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner said: 

    “It is a relief that this ordeal for Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin is finally over. After almost three years of a baseless prosecution, these three human rights defenders, who stood up for press freedom by expressing solidarity with persecuted journalists, have finally been acquitted.

    “It was clear from the start that this case should never have seen the light of day. The absurd charges levelled against them, and scores of others who also took part in the solidarity campaign, were clearly intended to silence and intimidate rights defenders, journalists, and wider civil society in Turkey.

    July 02, 2019

    Reacting to the news that Istanbul Pride march participants who were demonstrating peacefully were attacked with tear gas and plastic bullets by police, Amnesty International's Turkey Campaigner Milena Buyum said:

    “An entirely peaceful Istanbul Pride has yet again been tainted by the shocking unwarranted actions of the police who attacked groups of Pride participants. The wanton use of tear gas and plastic bullets in this context is completely unacceptable and further compounds the unlawful ban LGBTI people and their allies have been subjected to.

    “In a blatant attack on freedom of expression, Amnesty International’s representatives monitoring the Pride event received allegations that police announced that people in ‘inappropriate’ dress would be detained.

    “We are dismayed at the news that people have been arbitrarily detained by police simply because of their participation in Istanbul pride. They must be immediately and unconditionally released and an urgent investigation into the use of excessive force must be launched.”

    Background

    June 28, 2019
    50 years after the Stonewall riots, thousands expected to brave tear gas and plastic bullets to defy discriminatory ban Spokespeople will attend the event and are available for interview

    The Istanbul Pride march will take place on Sunday 30 June in spite of a decision by the Governorate of Istanbul to ban the celebrations. 

    "Fifty years ago today, LGBTI+ people took to the streets outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City to fight against bigotry and prejudice - and they won. On Sunday, thousands will take to the streets of Istanbul, defying an unlawful ban and possibly braving plastic bullets, teargas and police batons, to celebrate Pride,” said Sara Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    June 01, 2019

    Think a keyboard can stop torture?

    Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on May 24 to protect 44 adults and 3 children. The group had been scooped during police raids after a violent clash between security forces and the armed PKK. In custody at the police’s anti-terrorism branch in Urfa province, the detainees sustained head injuries and cuts and bruises from repeated kicks and punches. Hours after our appeals began arriving in Turkey, the torture stopped. Police began treating the detainees with more respect and the detainees felt more secure.

    Children were among 22 individuals who have now been released. Others have been transferred to prison where further ill-treatment is unlikely. Amnesty International has sent a letter to the Minister of Justice to call for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment experienced by the detainees.

    Learn more about the Urgent Action Network here.

     

    May 22, 2019

    In response to a decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to reject an application by civil society leader Osman Kavala to end his continued pre-trial detention on the grounds that it is in violation of his human rights, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner Milena Buyum said:

    “Today’s inexplicable decision by Turkey’s highest court rubs salt into the wound of injustice. Osman Kavala’s rights have been abused. He should not have spent a single day behind bars, let alone nearly 600 days. The charges against him must be dropped and he must be immediately released.”

    “The outlandish allegations against Osman Kavala are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence one of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures.

    “Yet again, following a decision earlier this month to reject the applications of jailed journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, the Constitutional Court’s decision has prolonged the detention of someone who should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

    May 10, 2019

    Reacting to the news that a Pride march organized by students at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara has been violently broken up by police and 25 students arrested, Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is heartbreaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, and that at least 25 people have reportedly been unlawfully detained. Reports of excessive use of force by the police must be urgently investigated.”

    “Amnesty International condemns the police intervention to break up this celebration of pride on the METU campus today. It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality.

    All those detained by police must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    May 07, 2019

    Following news that the planned student Pride march at the Middle East Technical University (METU) will not be allowed to take place by the university’s rectorate, Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Europe said:

    “For the last eight years students at this university have marched through their campus to celebrate Pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI people. It is celebration of love which sends a message of hope to all those struggling to uphold fundamental rights in Turkey and beyond.

    “Rather than banning Pride events, the university should be supporting and protecting such marches and challenging homophobia and transphobia. The Rectorate must reverse its decision and allow students without fear of intimidation or violence.”

    Background

    The march was scheduled to take place on 10 March.

    Turkish authorities must ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and their allies are able to enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and assembly without fear of intimidation or violence.

    May 01, 2019

    Professor Füsun Üstel, renowned for her academic work on citizenship and nationalism, is expected to start her 15 month prison sentence within the next few days. Professor Üstel is the first academic to go to prison simply for signing the peace petition headlined “We will not be party to this crime”. Hundreds of other “Academics for Peace” are on trial accused of ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’ and risk imprisonment. In 124 cases, prosecutors or courts have requested the permission of the Minister of Justice for the signatories to be tried also under Article 301 of the penal code that criminalizes ‘denigrating the Turkish nation’.

    March 20, 2019
    Amnesty International delegation to attend trial of organization’s Turkey honorary chair, Taner Kılıç, and the Istanbul 10, including former Amnesty Turkey director Idil Eser 

    Almost two years after they were first arrested, two prominent figures from Amnesty International Turkey and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted of the absurd charges they still face, said Amnesty International ahead of their trial which resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. 

    Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, and İdil Eser, the organization’s former Turkey Director, are being tried alongside nine other activists on baseless allegations of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.  

    February 27, 2019

     Leading NGOs in Turkey have come together to call for the dropping of absurd allegations levelled against Osman Kavala and 15 other prominent figures and an end to the escalating crackdown and criminalization of civil society.

    The open letter, signed by the organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and eight other NGOs, calls for an end to the orchestrated campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment of civil society activists in Turkey.

    For more information or to arrange an interview contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    FULL TEXT OF LETTER

    We stand united against efforts to destroy civil society

    February 20, 2019

    In response to news that an indictment has been sent to the court setting out the case against Osman Kavala and 15 civil society figures for “attempting to overthrow the government”, Amnesty International’s Andrew Gardner said:

    “These outlandish allegations are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence some of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures who now face the prospect of being tried by Turkey’s deeply flawed justice system.”

    “Almost six years after the Gezi Park protests saw tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting against state repression, this indictment - if accepted by the court - could see the accused facing a lifetime behind bars without the possibility of parole.”

    “The Gezi protests were overwhelmingly peaceful with people simply exercising their rights. They were met by arbitrary and abusive force by police. It should be the authorities’ denial of these rights and the police violence against peaceful protestors that should be examined by the courts, not these 16 civil society figures who have not committed any crime.

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to the decision of a Turkish first instance appeals court to uphold the conviction of journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:

    “Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber stamped by an equally biased appeals process.

    “The prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers is an ongoing affront to press freedom and to justice. By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.”

    For more information please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

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