Police say tear gas harmless

Police say tear gas harmless

Turkish police denied media reports that tear gas used to disperse street demonstrations could cause permanent health effects yesterday, citing rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) sanctioning the use of the chemical agent.

“The inaccuracy of claims that tear gas causes permanent harm to human health has been established by clinical reports,” the statement said, referring to a study by Istanbul University’s Pharmacology Department.

The study reported that “none of the effects of pepper gas and powder are permanent and could be swiftly eradicated by washing the affected area with water.”

A recent ECHR ruling which condemned Turkey pertained not to the use of the tear gas, but to the way it was used, the statement said.

“The tear gas utilized by our institution is being used by personnel who are trained on the issue and upon orders from authorized superiors. Additionally, those gases have in no way caused any permanent harm so far to the personnel who are using them,” the statement said.

On April 10 the ECHR ruled unanimously in favor of Ali Güneş, a high school teacher, in his case against Turkey. Güneş was sprayed in the face with tear gas during a demonstration in 2004.