What You Can Do NOW to Stop the Abuse of Protestors in Turkey

June 4, 2013

A protester covers her face during clashes with Turkish police near the prime minister's office in Istanbul (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images).
A protester covers her face during clashes with Turkish police near the prime minister’s office in Istanbul (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images).

In Turkey, a major human rights crisis looms.  Here is what an update on what you can do about it.

The Crisis

As protests continue to rock Turkish cities, Amnesty International has warned that injuries due to “police abuse will continue to escalate unless the authorities bring police tactics in line with basic human rights standards.” Police excesses have been “disgraceful,” Amnesty says. The number of those injured by excessive police force is as yet unknown, but is believed to be in the thousands. Many of the injuries have been serious. There are as yet unconfirmed reports of deaths.

With Turkish media often seeming to downplay events in Turkey, social media has taken a key role in disseminating news about the protests. The images of police excess are truly shocking.

Amnesty notes:

Video evidence has documented police deliberately firing tear gas canisters protestors. Members of the public who have not been protesting have been affected by the excessive use of tear gas, which has been used in confined spaces such as the metro station in Taksim and allegedly in buildings where protestors were sheltering.

The authorities claim to have detained close to 1000 people. Dozens of amateur videos taken at the scene of demonstrations show law enforcement officials hitting, kicking and beating protestors with truncheons, including when they had been incapacitated by the effects of tear gas.

John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia program director at Amnesty International, notes that “[three] days after the start of an unprecedented wave of police repression against protesters, the Turkish authorities have shown little remorse and no indication of a change in police tactics.” Amnesty is “particularly concerned about the use of tear gas in confined spaces where it represents a major threat to health,” says Dalhuisen.

What You Can Do

As we watch these horrific scenes, we are not powerless. One voice of protest can be ignored, but thousands, and hundreds of thousands cannot.

Here are steps that you can take today:

  1. Write directly to the Turkish government! 

The easiest, first step is to use this electronic form to write to Turkish officials, voicing your concerns. You can use our model language or use your own, but your letter should be brief, factual, and polite. Urge your friends and family to write letters as well.

Your letters should do the following:

A. Call on the authorities to immediately end the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors

B. Call for them to ensure the right to freedom of expression and assembly

C. Urge them to initiate a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force  and bring to justice law enforcement officials found to have ill-treated demonstrators or other members of the public.

You can also write to the Turkish Embassy in your home country.

For the the Turkish ambassador to the United States, write to:

Ambassador Namik Tan
Embassy, Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

2. Use social media like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word.

Facebook messages should ask people to participate in the action, not just “like” your message. The Turkish government doesn’t read your “likes,” but it notices when it is deluged with hundreds of thousands of letters.

Here are some suggested messages for twitter:

.@RT_Erdogan Intervene now! No more abusive use of force by police @aforgutu #insanhakları #humanrightsforturkey #humanrights

.@RT_Erdogan Turkish authorities must allow the right to peaceful protest of the demonstrators @aforgutu #insanhakları #humanrightsforturkey

.@RT_Erdogan No more police beatings! No more firing tear gas canisters deliberately at protestors @aforgutu #humanrightsforturkey

.@RT_Erdogan Release up to date and accurate information on numbers and extent of injuries @aforgutu #insanhakları #humanrightsforturkey

.@RT_Erdogan Call immediate, independent & impartial investigation into allegations of excessive force @aforgutu #humanrightsforturkey

.@RT_Erdogan Change track: Stop the violence, allow peaceful protest, investigate abuses and never allow it again @aforgutu #insanhakları

.@RT_Erdogan No more deaths at demonstrations in #Turkey! @aforgutu #insanhakları #humanrightsforturkey #humanrights

  1. Stay informed. 

We will update the action as needed. Consider joining Amnesty International – USA’s Turkish Regional Action Network, follow us on Facebook or at our blog site, Human Rights in Turkey. This is an urgent and on-going crisis. We need your support.