Yesterday, Amnesty staged demonstrations in Seoul, South Korea and at the South Korean Embassy in Ankara, urging the South Korean government to suspend a proposed shipment of 1.9 million teargas canisters and gas grenades this year.
In Seoul, activists staged their demonstration in front of Defense Industry Supply Office building. In Ankara, Amnesty-Turkey presented over 40,000 signatures calling on South Korea to stop shipments of these “less lethal” weapons to Turkey, recalling the Turkey’s clear record of using them in abusive and illegal ways.
As Amnesty has noted in its report on Gezi:
Police officers were repeatedly seen firing tear gas canisters horizontally at suspected demonstrators as a weapon. A significant proportion of persons injured at the scene of demonstrations received injuries through being struck by gas canisters, many of them fired at close range. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey reported to Amnesty International that of the applications for rehabilitation made to their foundation, 60% were due to injuries caused by gas canisters…
Amnesty International witnessed tear gas being used repeatedly against peaceful protestors at demonstrations in a manner that was manifestly inappropriate, abusive and in violation of their rights. Widespread reports and photographic and video evidence also point to the frequent use of tear gas against protestors fleeing police and apparently randomly against potential demonstrators and bystanders alike at the scene or close to and at persons in confined spaces including residential buildings and commercial premises where protestors had sought refuge and health facilities where injured persons were receiving treatment.
According to a press report, a representative of Daekwang Chemistry, one of the chief suppliers of teargas to Turkey, publicly apologized for Turkey’s misuse of these weapons. Sadly, no similar contrition has been forthcoming from the Turkish government itself.
Amnesty’s campaign is made more urgent because the first shipment of 550,000 teargas canisters and grenades is due in Turkey this month. Amnesty urgently calls on the South Korean government to halt these shipments before it is too late.
“All shipments of tear gas and other riot control equipment to Turkey must be suspended immediately or they risk fuelling further repression and abuses,” said Marek Marczynski, Head of Military, Security and Police at Amnesty International.