IGLHRC Calls on Turkish Government to End Use of Force Against Peaceful Demonstrators

(June 3, 2013. London)—The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is deeply concerned with the excessive use of force by Turkish police against peaceful demonstrators in Istanbul and Ankara over the past week.

On May 27, protests against the demolition of portions of Taksim Gezi Park began in Istanbul. Since then, protests against crackdowns on civil liberties and economic polices have spread to Ankara and other parts of the country. According to a half-dozen eyewitnesses interviewed by IGLHRC, police in Istanbul and Ankara have used excessive force including both water cannons and tear gas at close range. IGLHRC notes with extreme concern reports of police assault on May 31 of Dr. Binnaz Toprak, Member of Parliament from Istanbul and the recipient of IGLHRC’s 2013 Outspoken Award.

The violence in Taksim Square is particularly destructive because it strikes at what has traditionally been a safe space for diverse and minority communities, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

IGLHRC calls upon the Government of Turkey to respect the fundamental rights of assembly, association, and expression. We call upon the Government of Turkey to start an immediate dialogue with civil society organizations and representatives from the demonstrations. We call upon the municipal and federal governments to immediately investigate all allegations of arbitrary arrest and police brutality and bring the perpetrators to justice. We also call upon Ministry of Justice to dismiss all charges against peaceful protestors.