‘Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment On A Massive Scale’

THE RECENT RELEASE OF the aptly-titled ‘Contempt for Freedom’ by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) documents in great detail the disproportionate use of force by the Turkish state police in response to the anti-government protests this year. The unparalleled demonstrations in June were ignited by the ferocious police attacks on a sit-in in Taksim’s Gezi Park in late May. Over the course of one week, what began as a peaceful occupation to halt an unauthorized dig to make way for a controversial shopping mall, rapidly escalated into nationwide unrest, driven by shocking reports & images of excessive police action flooding social media, alongside a largely silent mainstream Turkish media &, not least, by an overly blunt reaction from the ruling AKP.

As the accompanying press release from the New York-based NGO outlines, police “attacked independent medical personnel who courageously provided care to the injured in accordance with international medical ethical standards and Turkish law.” In addition to violating the principle of medical neutrality — tantamount to a serious breach of the Geneva Conventions — PHR’s conclusion points to Turkish police deliberately firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters as a systemic mode of attack.

Published on Weds. 25.09.13, the 32-page report bases its findings on research conducted from 25 June to 2 July in İstanbul, the heart of the protests, & in the capital, Ankara. Working primarily with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) & the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), the PHR team reviewed 169 cases of physical & psychological evidence, as well as interviewing 53 victims & witnesses of police violence. The damning conclusion: Continue reading “‘Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment On A Massive Scale’”

The Roots Of The Gezi Trees Lie In ‘Ekümenopolis’

NO ONE SAW GEZI Park coming. Least of all the government. After more than a decade in power, the ruling Justice & Development Party (or AKP, by their Turkish acronym) literally tried to bulldoze over İstanbul residents’ rightful concerns for their local environment. And when that didn’t work, out came the teargas. For many citizens, at least 2.5 million who protested in June in all but two of Turkey’s 81 cities, the rallying cry was that it was never about a park. Acknowledged nationally & internationally (except by the government & its febrile supporters), the cause of the unprecedented unrest was state-sanctioned police brutality and, by extension, the arrogance of the prime minister. But before the excessive use of teargas, the beatings, & the tent-burning morphed a 4-day-old park sit-in into the political faultline that is now Gezi, initially it was all about trees & peaceful resistance to the AKP steamroller of blind urban development. And if one person did see that coming, it was filmmaker İmre Azem. Continue reading “The Roots Of The Gezi Trees Lie In ‘Ekümenopolis’”