Tear gas as a dangerous weapon

July 7th, 2013

The aftermath of the unrest in Turkey – Published on The Economist, July 5, 2013.

THE mass anti-government demonstrations that have rocked Turkey over the past month are dying down and only now is the full horror of police abuse against protestors beginning to emerge. Human-rights groups say the use of tear gas as a weapon marks a new chilling trend among Turkey’s notoriously nasty riot police … //

… Meanwhile, allegations of sexual harassment under detention are beginning to surface. Take the case of a 25-year-old student who was detained along with 73 others on May 31st even though they were not involved in the protests.  The student, who asked not to be identified by name, said she and six other women were locked up by turn in a dark, grimy cell by a “large and evil looking” woman police officer just as they were about to be freed. “She made me take off my clothes, including my underpants but not my bra, then she stuck her hand in my bra and started barking orders to crouch and cough, again and again” the student said. “There is a pattern of women being singled out for abuse,” said Ozlem Durucan, a lawyer who is acting on the student’s behalf.

Arzu Demir, a left-wing journalist, agrees. She and a woman colleague were subjected to an intrusive body search by a female police officer during a raid on their news agency’s office on June 18th, which lasted for 14 hours. “She locked us in the toilet and felt our breasts and crotches even though the police didn’t have a warrant for our arrests. It was sexual abuse and it was completely unlawful,” Ms Demir fumed.

Human-rights groups say that over a hundred people remain in detention for their alleged role in the events. Never mind that the demonstrations were largely peaceful; they started off as a small sit-in to stop a government-backed development plan in a park near Taksim Square.

Mr Erdogan insists the protestors are “terrorists” acting in concert with a global network of western governments, media outlets and financiers bent on overthrowing his government. The Istanbul Security Directorate appeared to corroborate this view when it filed a 190-page report with the prosecutor’s office allegedly blaming, among others, The Economist for the protests.

The Turkish Journalists Union says that at least 28 journalists were wounded (including by gas canisters), 22 were beaten and 18 others detained during the unrest. “I kept shouting ‘I am a journalist’ and waving my press card,’ said Eylem Duzyol, a woman journalist, who was kicked and clubbed by a group of riot police for no apparent reason. “Admitting I was a journalist made things worse.”
(full text).

Links:

Men Without a Country: Snowden and Trotsky, on NewPolitics, by Dan La Botz, July 4, 2013.

The Gutting of Voting Rights, on Solidarity, by Malik Miah, July 1, 2013: By a narrow majority, 5-4, the US Supreme Court overturned the crucial enforcement provisions of historic 1965 Voting Rights Act. The ruling issued on June 25 is a major defeat for not only voting rights but civil rights …;

Creating a New Model of Social Union: CORE and the Chicago Teachers Union, on Solidarity, by Robert Bartlett, June 18, 2013.

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