Bulletin: [Turkey] English PEN condemns excessive force against protesters

English PEN is concerned at police violence in the ongoing demonstrations in Turkey and calls on the authorities to respect the right to peaceful protest.

Whilst English PEN welcomes Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s apology earlier today and his promise that legal action will be taken against police officers who have acted disproportionately, we remain alarmed at the heavy-handed attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Turkey. The excessive use of tear gas and water cannon has been the cause of extensive injuries and is an extreme and unnecessary reaction to peaceful protest.

Demonstrations began in Turkey last week in response to the proposed demolition of Gezi Park in Taksim, Istanbul. Following the use of excessive force in an attempt to disperse the protesters on 30 May 2013, protests have since escalated, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to participate in anti-government protests, not only in Istanbul, but across the country.

Yesterday, further demonstrations were held outside the offices of media outlets, including NTV and Doğuş media, in protest against the limited media coverage of recent events.

English PEN has long been concerned at the lack of media freedom in Turkey, and launched a campaign calling for greater freedom of expression at the beginning of the year. We are alarmed at the limited coverage of recent events in the mainstream Turkish media, and strongly urge the authorities and media owners to ensure that outlets are able to report events accurately and without fear of reprisals.

We would like to remind the Turkish government of its commitment to uphold the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, in accordance with its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Take action

  • More than 50 famous Turkish-Kurdish-Armenian writers, including PEN Atlas contributors Ece Temelkuran and Ayfer Tunç, have issued a statement calling on the government to end the violence, and are asking fellow writers from around the world to join them. Please do so here.
  • Over 45,000 people have signed an Avaaz petition caling on the Prime Minister to end the crackdown now. Join them here.

Recommended Reading

Erdoğan defiant as Turkey protests expose media self-censorship – Alev Yaman, English PENhttp://www.englishpen.org/blog-erdogan-defiant-as-turkey-protests-expose-media-self-censorship/

People have killed their fear of authority – and the protests are growing – Ece Temelkuran, New Statesmanhttp://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/06/people-have-killed-their-fear-authority-and-protests-are-growing

First Reflections on the Gezi Park Protests, Bulent Journal http://bulentjournal.com/i-hear-istanbul-saying/

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