Amnesty: Drastic Increase in Allegations of Excessive Force in Turkey


Reuters: “Resistance: Turkish riot police fired watercannons, rubber pellets and teargas as a gay pride parade in Istanbul descended into violence

Amnesty International highlighted a “dramatic increase” in allegations of excessive use of force by Turkish security forces in the past year.  It noted that lethal force has routinely been employed during anti-terrorism operations, but that “the absence of effective investigations prevented the facts from being established.”  Amnesty’s annual report also noted that “legislative amendments in the Domestic Security Package conflicted with international standards on the use of force.”

nihat_kazanhanThe report highlighted, the case of “12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan [who] was shot dead by a police officer in the southeastern city of Cizre.”

The authorities first denied the involvement of police, but video evidence emerged showing Nihat Kazanhan and other children throwing stones at police officers and, in separate footage, showing a police officer firing a rifle towards the children. Nihat Kazanhan was killed by a single bullet to the head. The trial of five police officers continued.


Amnesty also focused on the on-going crisis in south eastern Turkey.  Amnesty has repeatedly called on Turkey to end abusive operations.

Local authorities imposed extended round-the-clock curfews during police operations targeting the YDG-H in cities in the southeast. During the curfews, a total ban on residents leaving their homes was imposed, water, electricity and communications were cut and outside observers banned from entering.

Earlier in this year, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, noted:

While the Turkish authorities can take legitimate measures to ensure security and arrest suspects, they must comply with their human rights obligations. The operations currently being conducted under round-the-clock curfews are putting the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk and are beginning to resemble collective punishment


A woman cries in front of a damaged mosque in Sur district in Diyarbakir, on Dec 11, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Ilyas Akengin)

The crisis in Turkey is on-going; the abuses that Amnesty has documented seem certain to continue into 2016.

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

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