Police violence an increasingly worrisome issue in Turkey, TİHV

Police violence an increasingly worrisome issue in Turkey, TİHV

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Police violence an increasingly worrisome issue in Turkey, TİHV

This file photo shows police applying pressure water on workers of Turkey’s former state-run alcohol and tobacco monopoly, or Tekel, who went on hunger strike to protest Tekel’s privatization in 2010. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

In the first five months of the year three people, including one police officer, were killed and 179 people were injured due to Turkish police using excessive force to intervene in peaceful protests, says a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).

The increasing police violence is a worrisome issue for Turkey, said Metin Bakkalcı, general secretary of the TİHV.

“Turkey came around a very dangerous bend in the frame of human rights. Police use pepper gas and pressurized water as weapons. The European Courts of Human Rights fined Turkey in April, defining the use of [pepper] gas as ‘torture’ and abuse of the third article of the convention,” Bakkalcı told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

According to the report, 75-year-old Ayşe Al was killed after being hit by pressurized water in Diyarbakır on Feb. 15 while protesting in favor of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The report also mentions Hacı Zengin, a member of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) who was killed during Nevruz clashes in Istanbul on March 18.

A 28-year-old police officer Ahmet Toprakoğlu was killed in Şırnak during Nevruz clashes, the report stated.

The report also touches on the case of 31-year-old Çayan Birbenm who was hit with pepper spray by police in the Marmara province of Yalova on May 29 and consequently died.

562 people were arrested and 2275 have been detained so far in 2012, according to the report.
The report specifically underlines the excessive force police used during public workers protests in March 2012. Riot police used pepper gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of union members who had gathered in Ankara to protest the government’s controversial education bill. Riot police also used truncheons to disperse a crowd of some 500 union members.

“The announcements made after the protests reasoned security precautions for the use of the pepper spray. The concept of security is being used more and more in the world in defining authoritarian police force use,” the report said.

“The real aim is to threaten anyone that are on the opposition side and legitimize violence by using words such as ‘security precautions,’” the report said.

Since 2005, the Turkish government has been restricting the rights of civil society step by step, Bakkalcı said.

Turkey’s anti-terror law needs to be immediately changed, he said.

Family demands clarification of incident

RİZE - Doğan News Agency

The family of 31-year-old Çayan Birben has demanded that the responsible party be brought to justice and light be shed on the incident in which Birben was fatally injured by pepper gas used by the police.

He was trying to separate two fighters in the Marmara town of Yalova last week when the police pepper gas allegedly caused a terminal coma. Birben, who suffered from asthma and panic attacks, lost his life in the hospital three days later.

His father, Ahmet Birben, claimed his son was intentionally kept at hospital for three days for the effects of the pepper gas to wear off, but a visit by a doctor relative of the family to the hospital revealed the truth.

The family’s lawyer, Melike Korkmaz, said they had learned that the Yalova public prosecutor who launched an investigation into the incident had started taking statements from the police who were involved. Witnesses of the incident will start giving statements starting Thursday, she said and added she would go to Yalova to monitor developments.