Turkish lawyers join ongoing protests

Thousands of Turkish lawyers on June 12 joined the ongoing protests in Ankara and Istanbul by marching out of courthouses in black robes. This came as the result of incidents during the protests the previous day, where a number of lawyers were handcuffed and dragged on the ground by police officers. Prosecutors in Istanbul had begun to investigate the use of excessive force by police officers over the course of the protests. On June 11 alone, more than 600 individuals were injured during the protests and tear gas was flooded into Taksim Square by police. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT)  reports that police action during the protests has reached levels of torture and ill treatment and that it will begin filing criminal complaints against officers who have violated international rights conventions.

Protests have been raging for almost two weeks in Turkey with no sign of ending. Last week the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Turkish government to ensure the right of its citizens to assemble freely and in a peaceful manner. On SundayHuman Rights Watch (HRW) called on police to use non-violent tactics with civilians. This outbreak of violence comes about one month after Turkey’s Grand National Assembly approved amendments to the country’s anti-terrorism laws to bring them more in line with EU freedom of expression standards. In February the Council of Europe urged Turkey to move more quickly in its efforts to reform the laws governing freedom of expression and anti-terrorism.

From Jurist, June 12. Used with permission.