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Lawmaker Documents 180 Rights Violations in Turkey in March

A recent report by an opposition lawmaker reveals that 180 rights violations took place across the country in March, and shows that torture and mistreatment still remained as serious problems in prison.

Sezgin Tanrikulu, a lawmaker from the secular main opposition Republican People’s Party
(CHP) who shepherds the party’s human rights inquiries in Turkish Parliament, came up with new documentation.

As usual, Tanrikulu announced findings of the report from Periscope at a press room in Parliament. According to his findings, 15 journalists were detained last month. Tanrikulu, who also serves as deputy chairman of Parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Commission, documented that at least 180 violations of people’s right to live happened across the country.

One citizen lost his life after being shot by police, while four people were wounded by police fire during their risky encounter with the police force. The lawmaker accuses the police of acting reckless, with little regard for the procedures of policing.

According to the report, at least seven inmates died in prison. The lawmaker expressed his
dismay over the existence of torture and mistreatment, an issue that pit Turkey against
international rights organizations and the U.N.

The authorities in Ankara had previously blocked a U.N. rapporteur from inspecting torture claims in prison.

The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International previously documented widespread torture allegations, especially in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.

In terms of torture and mistreatment, 129 violations occurred in March, the report by Tanrikulu noted. Regarding torture, 74 violations happened, it added.

The lawmaker stated that 22 violations took place during armed skirmishes between law
enforcement and suspects. March also became the deadliest month for women. At least 27 women were killed by men in domestic violence.

The lax safety measures at the workplace appears another source of fatal incidents in Turkey.

Only in March, 108 workers lost their lives while working in unsafe conditions.

The core of the report took a deeper look at fatal incidents in the public and private sector, trying to map out tragic and suspicious deaths.

Two soldiers, the report notes, were killed in mysterious conditions, arousing suspicion over the real cause of their deaths. During civil strife, nine people were killed, while one civilian died in an attack by an outlawed organization.

One protester was killed when police or military vehicles intervened to disperse protesting
crowds. The report suspects that the protester might have accidentally been killed by the
vehicle, while the legal investigation is still underway.

March did also bring deaths to seven refugees in Turkey. The causes of their deaths, the report muses, would be determined after thorough investigation.

The free speech and press freedom were under assault during last month. At least 15 journalists, writers, and publishers were convicted and sentenced to different amounts of times in prison.

Over the course of March, 15 journalists were detained, one journalist imprisoned and 20
people have been convicted over free expression. The number of artists politicians and writers who were detained was 10, while 30 academics received prison sentences.

Authorities continued to prosecute people over their comments, posts, and shares on social media. At least 90 citizens faced legal investigation for their posts on social media. One person was handed a prison sentence.

Although nine months passed after the end of emergency rule, people’s right to assembly and demonstration has been systematically interrupted and broke up. March, in this respect, was no different. Police intervened and broke up at least 109 press briefings or gatherings during March.

During police interventions, 585 protesters were taken to police custody for detention.

Nineteen people were imprisoned over the charge of attending the illegal demonstration, while one protester was sent to jail.

The report concludes that civilian and individual rights in Turkey face systematic political
pressure.

The mistreatment and torture across prisons seem to have never ceased despite all the efforts by human rights organizations and opposition parties.

The free speech, right to assembly, demonstrations, journalistic activity, critical thinking in the academic landscape, the report illustrates, remain under constant attack, with legal implications for people working in those professions.

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