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Police brutality cases in Turkey surge during eid curfew

A four- day curfew to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey has seen a massive surge in reports of police brutality, with numerous videos of the police’s violent actions appearing on social media.

The government enacted a four-day curfew during Eid-al Fitr, starting on Saturday, as part of its attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Since Saturday, videos featuring police violence have popped up from all around the country.

Footage emerged on Tuesday showing watchmen beating up two citizens with batons in Istanbul’s Eyup district as a result of their alleged violation of the curfew.

The lawyer of the plaintiffs shared the video on Twitter.

Watchmen in Turkey are guards that help law enforcement officers whose line of work was reintroduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2017. The watchmen system was abolished in 2007.

On Monday, ANKA news agency posted footage displaying numerous police officers using force against a teenager in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district.

The person who took the video of the incident from a window is heard calling out to the police to stop hitting the teenager.

The Istanbul Police Department stated that the police had acted in lawfully.

Other footage surfaced on Monday, including that showing a police officer slapping a delivery worker.

The delivery worker is then seen asking the officer if it is right for him to hit a person. The officer replies, saying “It is right because I decided so.”

Footage of police violence against Ahmet Gultas in Corlu district of Turkey’s northwestern Tekirdag province emerged on Sunday.

Gultas family spoke to Mezopotamya news agency on Tuesday, saying that after Ahmet Gultas’ exchange with a police officer who cursed at children for playing outside, numerous police officers stormed the house and beat up two elderly people and other members of the family and blocked an ambulance from taking Sate Gultas, a 60-year-old woman, to the hospital.

On Monday footage from the Cizre district of Kurdish-majority province of Sirnak, featured police officers detaining several individuals with armoured vehicles.

Police and watchmen enforce curfews and other measures taken by Ankara against COVID-19 outbreak. Since the start of the quarantine measures in March, reports of police violence have surged.

The surge in these cases prompted the main opposition party, the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), to issue a parliamentary question on Tuesday on the issue.

“If we consider the incidents that took place in the last few days, the way they unfolded and what happened in the wake of them, we cannot say that these are individual events. They seem like products of systematic violence,” CHP Vice-chair Veli Agbaba said, underlining that what is public might be the tip of the iceberg.

“The cause is the employment of uneducated people who lack basic communication skills after sketchy training, in order to ensure the citizens’ safety of life and property,” said Agbaba.

“It is obvious that these incidents, which became chronic under the rule of the AKP, will jeopardize public safety and peace, and will irreversibly wreak damage on the people’s trust in law enforcement.”

A month ago, Ali al-Hamdani, an 18-year-old Syrian refugee, was shot dead by a police officer in southern Adana province.

Police claimed that Hamdani ignored law enforcement’s warning for him to stop and ran away; however, a video purportedly showing the aftermath of the shooting featured an emergency medical team performing cardiac massage on Hamdani with a bullet wound on his chest before putting him in an ambulance.

Earlier reports indicated that he was working to provide for his family and ran away from the police to avoid a hefty fine for violating the curfew enacted on youth under 20 years old.

Hamdani’s friends said that he could not be running away as he was shot in the chest.

*Writing by Bunyamin Tekin, Editing by Giordano Stolley

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