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’”