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Turkey

    March 04, 2016

    Today’s government takeover of Zaman newspaper is the latest deeply troubling episode of the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media, Amnesty International said today.

    “By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert.

    “A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.”

    Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air, silencing the only national news channel reporting a counter view of the situation in south-eastern Turkey, where round-the-clock curfews were imposed as armed clashes devastated entire towns. 

    February 05, 2016

    Tens of thousands of people displaced by joint Russian and Syrian government attacks in the north of Syria must be allowed to cross the border to safety in Turkey, Amnesty International said today amid reports that thousands of people are waiting at border gates that remain closed.

    Reports suggest that between 40,000 and 70,000 people are on the move after fleeing heavy fighting near the city of Aleppo. More than 20,000 are already waiting at the Bab al-Salam (Syrian) side of Öncüpınar border gate in Kilis Province on the Turkey/Syria border, which is currently closed.

    “Turkey has allowed in huge numbers of people fleeing the horrors of war and humanitarian catastrophe. It must not close its doors to people in desperate need of safety,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “These people have fled air strikes and heavy fighting; they are likely to be traumatised and exhausted. Turkey must allow them to enter its territory and the international community must do all it can to ensure adequate support is given to the country.”

    January 28, 2016

    The Turkish authorities are failing to respond to the desperate pleas of more than 20 injured residents sheltering for six days in the basement of a building that has been under fire and heavy shelling in the south-east town of Cizre, said Amnesty International today.

    “This is a desperate situation: injured individuals, some of whom are apparently bleeding heavily, are at grave risk of dying if they do not urgently receive medical care,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.

    An estimated 23 people are stranded in a building’s basement in the town of Cizre, Şırnak province, where they sought shelter on 23 January amid ongoing clashes between the army and the armed individuals affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

    Amnesty International has spoken to one of the people in the basement who said that four people had already died and a further 12 were seriously injured, while the building continued to be hit by shells. Communications have since been cut but it is believed that six people have now died.

    January 28, 2016

     

    A new plan to tackle unprecedented refugee flows to Europe, mooted by the Dutch Presidency of the European Union today, is fundamentally flawed since it would hinge on illegally returning asylum seekers and refugees from Greece to Turkey, Amnesty International warned.

    Plans to label Turkey a “safe third country” in order to ferry back tens of thousands of people from Greece without due process or access to asylum application procedures would blatantly violate both European and international law.

    “No one should be fooled by the humanitarian sheen of this fundamentally flawed proposal. It is political expediency, plain and simple, aimed at stopping the flows of desperate people across the Aegean Sea,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    January 20, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  21 January 2016

    The Turkish government’s onslaught on Kurdish towns and neighbourhoods, which includes round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services, is putting the lives of up to 200,000 people at risk and amounts to collective punishment, Amnesty International said today.

    Research carried out by Amnesty International in areas under curfew and reports from residents in areas that are currently inaccessible to external observers, reveal the extreme hardships they are currently facing as a result of harsh and arbitrary measures.

    There have also been numerous reports of security forces preventing ambulances from entering areas under curfew and providing treatment to the sick.

    “Cuts to water and electricity supplies combined with the dangers of accessing food and medical care while under fire are having a devastating effect on residents, and the situation is likely to get worse, fast, if this isn’t addressed,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    January 16, 2016

    The detention of 19 academics in Turkey represents a new assault on the imperilled right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today. 
           
    The wave of detentions started on Friday, targeting academics who had signed a petition calling for peace and criticising Turkish military operations in the south-east. Signatories have also received death threats on social media, and have been compared to terrorists by President Recep Tayip Erdoðan earlier today. 
     
    “The military operations taking place under round-the-clock curfews are generating huge suffering and widespread human rights violations.  The Turkish authorities should be listening to those that are speaking out, not arresting them,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher. 
     

    December 15, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT Wednesday 16 December 2015

    The European Union (EU) is in danger of being complicit in serious human rights violations against refugees and asylum-seekers, said Amnesty International today, as it published damning evidence that the Turkish authorities have been unlawfully apprehending, detaining and pressuring refugees and asylum-seekers to return to warzones.  

    The report Europe’s Gatekeeper documents how, since September, in parallel with EU-Turkey migration talks, the Turkish authorities have rounded up and herded scores – possibly hundreds – of refugees and asylum-seekers onto buses and transported them more than 1,000 kilometres to isolated detention centres where they have been held incommunicado. Some report being shackled for days on end, beaten and forcibly transported back to the countries they had fled.

    November 30, 2015

    “Reports of Turkey rounding up and detaining over a thousand refugees in the west of the country are alarming but not surprising.

    Ever since September, we have seen the Turkish authorities detaining scores of refugees, often completely incommunicado, and forcibly returning them to neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

    This is as illegal as it is unconscionable. In the wake of this weekend’s EU-Turkey migration talks, it’s a stain on the EU’s conscience too,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher.

     

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

    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.

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