Turkey’s top court rules rights of injured Gezi Park protester violated

The Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) has ruled that the rights of a demonstrator who was injured in the head by a teargas canister fired by police during the country’s 2013 Gezi Park protests were violated.

According to a report by Cumhuriyet daily on Sunday, the court’s verdict elaborated that Duran Eren Sahin’s right to assembly and demonstration as well as the prohibition of actions incompatible to human dignity were violated.

Sahin, a participant in the 2013 protests was a university student in Ankara at the time.

.Alican Uludag from Cumhuriyet reported that Sahin’s lawyer Dogukan Tonguc Cankurt had filed a criminal complaint against police officers intervening in the protest after the student was struck by a teargas canister and wounded in the head in the Kizilay neighborhood on June 2, 2013.

The prosecutors in the Turkish capital Ankara were informed by the Security Directorate that the city surveillance records captured by the Mobile Electronic System Integration (MOBESE), were deleted and the police officer who fired the teargas canister that injured Sahin could not be detected.

The Prosecutor’s Office dropped the legal proceedings against police forces three years later, arguing that the officers were only doing their duty.

Years after the Gezi Park protests, however, the AYM criticized the security officials for not launching an investigation into Sahin’s case, stressing that the treatment of the police in the case was degrading.

The court also decided that Sahin be paid TL 20,000 ($3,448) in non-pecuniary damages.

“It is seen that the public authorities did not openly put forward that the applicant was not peaceful while using his right to assembly. In that case, the force used against the applicant cannot be considered necessary,” the AYM underlined in the verdict.

The Gezi Park protests in Turkey started as a small sit-in against the proposed destruction of one of Istanbul’s few remaining green spaces to make way for a shopping mall.

It then spread across the country with protesters besieging a number of government buildings after police waded in with batons and teargas to break up the demonstration.

A total of 12 people were killed and nearly 8,000 were injured in the ensuing violence.

Then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued at the time that the demonstrations were not environmentally motivated, but aimed to overthrow his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The defendants deny the charges against them.

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