Freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression are fundamental human rights and play an essential role in the prevention of violence. Yet, Turkey is using aggressive methods, such as excessive use of force during assemblies and demonstrations to dissuade citizens from protesting.
Police target groups as diverse as protestors against the Emergency Decrees, Kurdish people, workers, women, LGBTI+’s, journalists, lawyers, politicians, students and environmentalists. Any form of dissent in the civic space is obstructed. According to a study by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey on the period 2015 to 2019, freedom of assembly was violated at no less than 4,771 events; 20,071 people were taken into custody; 662 were detained; 4,450 were physically attacked, and 19 were killed by the police.
Despite rampant police brutality, law enforcement and other public officials in Turkey have been shielded from accountability for any misconduct when policing demonstrations. Victims are not only prevented from seeking justice but also face counter-charges for “preventing police officers from performing their duties” and “resisting arrest” (Article 265 of the Turkish Penal Code). This aims to dissuade people from filing torture complaints.
This briefing note focuses on the excessive use of force against people participating in peaceful demonstrations and assemblies in Turkey and its chilling effect on the freedom of assembly. It is the third such note in a series documenting the collapse of the rule of law in Turkey and is based on the work of OMCT’s local partners.
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is the largest global NGO group actively standing up to torture and protecting human rights defenders worldwide. It has more than 200 members in 90 countries. Its international Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
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