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Turkey

    October 16, 2015

    Released  00:01 GMT on Saturday 17 October 2015

    European leaders’ desperate attempts to enlist Turkey as Europe’s gatekeeper are ignoring the manifest failures of the Turkish authorities to respect the rights of refugees and migrants, said Amnesty International today ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Istanbul tomorrow.

    Talks between Angela Merkel and her Turkish counterparts – Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – on Sunday are set to cover the refugee crisis among other issues.

    “Talks between the EU and Turkey on ‘migration management’ risk putting the rights of refugees a distant second behind border control measures designed to prevent refugees from reaching the EU,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

    September 25, 2015

    The Turkish authorities must not forcibly return a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers who are currently being held in a camp against their will, after surviving a shipwreck in a boat that they say was shot at by the Turkish coastguard, said Amnesty International today. 

    A group of 250 mostly Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees were travelling from Turkey to Greece’s Aegean islands on 15 September. Several refugees told Amnesty International that the Turkish coastguard fired shots at their boat, which then sank. At least 22 died, including children.

    “If the accounts of those on the boat are confirmed, Turkey may be responsible for the deaths of 22 people. The lack of humanity displayed by the Turkish authorities in this case is almost inconceivable. To shoot at a boat carrying people fleeing conflict and then to detain those who survived the resulting shipwreck is callous beyond belief,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.

    September 01, 2015

    Responding to news that three journalists from Vice News have been charged and remanded in pre-trial detention, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said:

    “Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to release immediately three VICE News journalists. The three were remanded in pre-trial detention late on Monday night on the charge of ‘committing a crime in the name of an illegal organisation’.

    “They were detained after filming clashes between youths and police in southeastern Turkey. The detentions smack of a blatant case of punishing legitimate journalism using anti-terrorism laws.” 

     

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

    August 11, 2015

    Evidence collected by Amnesty International in a fact-finding mission indicates that multiple Turkish government airstrikes killed eight residents and injured at least eight others – including a child - in a flagrantly unlawful attack on the village of Zergele, in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

    The airstrikes on 1 August were part of a military campaign launched by Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but according to information gathered by Amnesty International these residents were not affiliated with the PKK. The organization is calling on the Turkish government to launch an independent, impartial and effective investigation into the airstrikes and to publicly release the findings of their investigation.

    “The recent attacks in Kandil maimed, killed, and displaced residents, destroying homes and terrifying locals in an area where no military targets appeared to be present,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International who visited the area.

    July 20, 2015

    The bombing occurred at around 12 midday in Suruç, a town on Turkey’s border with Syria and close to the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani / Ayn Al-Arab in Syria.

    According to a statement from the Turkish authorities shortly after the blast, 27 people had been killed and close to 100 people were receiving treatment for injuries, some of them life threatening.

    Amnesty International condemns the bombing, which appears to have been carried out in a way that maximises the number of civilian casualties. Such attacks show contempt for the right to life and breach the most basic principles of international law. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

    The bombing appears to have targeted the Amara Cultural Centre in the centre of Suruç. At the time of the bombing, young people from Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) who had come to Suruç on the way to provide humanitarian aid in Kobani, were making a press statement. 

    March 27, 2015

    A range of security reforms in a bill passed by Turkey’s Parliament today will give the country’s police forces broad and dangerous new powers to detain people and use firearms to quell dissent, Amnesty International said.

    The organization said the bill facilitates the already widespread practice of arbitrary detentions during protests and paves the way for further human rights violations including politically motivated criminal investigations and violations of the right to life.

    “Today’s vote to pass this draconian new law confirms our fears – Turkey’s Parliament has taken some of the worst abuses from the country’s appalling track record on policing and effectively endorsed them in law,” said Andrew Gardner, Researcher on Turkey at Amnesty International.

    The articles passed – which amend 14 different laws or decrees – have been hotly debated. The timing is seen as especially contentious given parliamentary elections in June.

    January 15, 2015

    A criminal investigation launched today against one of Turkey’s largest daily newspapers for “insulting religious values” in its coverage of controversial cartoons published in France amounts to state censorship and will have a chilling effect on journalism and freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    The investigation follows a police raid on Cumhuriyet daily’s printing press in Istanbul on Wednesday after a prosecutor discovered the newspaper was publishing a selection of cartoons from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

    Turkey's Prime Minister called the reproduction of the cartoons a “grave provocation” stating that “the freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to insult”.

    “Raiding a printing press or launching criminal investigations into journalists because of what a newspaper has published are a drastic limitation on freedom of expression and amount to state censorship,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

    November 20, 2014

    Released 08:30 GMT 20 November 2014

    The international community’s failure to deal with the growing number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Turkey has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions with refugees facing push-backs and live fire at the border and hundreds of thousands living in destitution, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Struggling to Survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey, documents serious human rights risks faced by the 1.6 million people who have sought refuge in
    the country over the last three and a half years. It also highlights the deplorable reluctance of the international community to take meaningful financial responsibility for the refugee crisis.

    October 08, 2014

    The Turkish government must act to stop the spiraling violence which continues to rock the predominantly Kurdish south-east of Turkey where 19 people were killed and many injured during protests prompted by the advances of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State towards Syria’s border with Turkey.

    “It is essential that the Turkish authorities act now to calm tensions with firm but rights-respecting policing and a commitment to investigate promptly the up to 19 deaths and scores of injuries of protesters,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.

    “Any use of force by the security forces must be strictly in line with international human rights standards, in particular the principles of necessity and proportionality.”

    Protests were sparked by the IS (Islamic State armed group) attack on the city of Kobani/Ayn Al-Arab in Syria, which is held by the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). Kobani has been held by the YPG since July 2012. It has been under siege and assault by the IS since July 2013, and has come under renewed and more sustained attack since September 2014.

    September 22, 2014

    The Turkish authorities must ensure that the country’s borders are kept open to those fleeing conflict and human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq, said Amnesty International.

    Turkey began to close some of its border crossings with Syria after 130,000 Kurdish refugees poured into the country in recent days fleeing the advance of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

    “The latest influx of refugees has undoubtedly placed even further strain on Turkey’s already stretched resources, but this cannot be used as an excuse for denying safe sanctuary to anyone who is fleeing the horrors of war,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “With more and more desperate refugees arriving at the border in search of safety, it is crucial that the international community acts now to strengthen its support to Turkey and other countries neighbouring Syria to avert further suffering.”

    Turkey, which before this weekend was already hosting more than one million refugees from Syria, has largely been left to deal with the crisis on its own.

    September 01, 2014

    The Turkish government’s prosecution of Twitter critics is a deeply hypocritical stance for the host of the Internet Governance Forum, Amnesty International said today. The organization called on future hosts to set a better example while highlighting violations of Internet freedom by the US, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Viet Nam.

    The event, which takes place in Istanbul between 2 and 5 September, brings together governments and civil society to share best practice on Internet regulation, security and human rights.

    Twenty-nine Twitter users are being tried in Izmir, Turkey, and face up to three years in jail for posting tweets during last year’s protests that the authorities claim “incite the public to break the law”. None of the tweets contained any incitement to violence.

    “It’s astounding to see Turkish authorities plough on with the prosecution of Twitter critics, even as they host a discussion on Internet governance where human rights are a key theme,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    July 11, 2014
    By Milena Buyum, Amnesty’s Turkey Campaigner

    On 2 June last year, Özge Ünlütezcan, a 24-year-old drama student, grabbed her phone to send out a series of tweets. Shortly after, she was stunned to be called into a police station where she was questioned and detained for 18 hours. She says when I call her that she was simply using her right to pass on information about the protests that had begun in Gezi Park some days earlier, and which were rapidly sweeping the country.

    She was not alone in her response. During that summer of protests, Turkey’s 10 million-plus Twitter users lit up the internet with millions of tweets detailing what was happening. So why are Özge and 28 other young people now facing up to three years in prison?

    June 20, 2014
    By Anna Shea, Legal Adviser on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    What struck me most when I met Zeinah (not her real name), a 29-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey, were her warm personality and marvelous smile. But her past and present experiences give her precious little to smile about.

    Zeinah arrived in Turkey four months ago, having fled her native Syria.

    Like other Syrians I met in Istanbul, Zeinah had experienced horrors in her country of origin, and was desperate to start a new life. A teacher by profession, she was jailed by the Bashar al-Assad regime for allegedly providing assistance to opposition groups. She said she was raped and beaten multiple times over the several months she spent in prison and was eventually released due to lack of evidence.

    The abuse she suffered in jail has left her with injuries to her spine – and serious psychological trauma – which remain untreated.

    June 12, 2014

    Turkey must abandon a politically motivated show trial of a group of peaceful activists charged with organizing “unlawful” protests that swept the country a year ago, said Amnesty International.

    Members of the Taksim Solidarity group, whose trial in Istanbul begins today, face up to 15 and a half years in jail.

    “This is a vindictive, politically motivated show trial without a shred of evidence of actual crimes. It should be stopped at the first hearing,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.

    “The prosecution has concocted a case simply to send a strong message to the rest of Turkey that the authorities will ruthlessly pursue anyone who dissents and organizes protests against government policies.”

    Taksim Solidarity is a coalition of more than 100 organizations including architects, engineers, doctors, trade unionists and others. It was established in 2012, to contest plans for the Taksim Square and Gezi Park urban development project in Istanbul.

    June 10, 2014

    * The repression of peaceful protest and the use of abusive force by police continues unabated one year after the Gezi Park protests;
    * Across Turkey, more than 5,500 people have been prosecuted in connection with the Gezi Park protests;
    * Only five prosecutions have been brought against nine police officers, despite hundreds of complaints of police abuses;
    * Medical associations, doctors and other civil servants have faced sanction for their alleged support for the protests;
    * Social media users are on trial for sharing information about the protests;
    * New laws restrict access to social media and criminalize the provision of emergency medical care during protests.

    One year on from the Gezi Park protests, the government’s approach to demonstrations is as abusive as ever while impunity for police violence is rampant, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

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