UN urges probe of Turkey crackdown

2013-06-04 14:00
A protester holds a Turkish flag decorated with the image of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during clashes near Taksim Square in Istanbul. (Kostas Tsironis, AP)

A protester holds a Turkish flag decorated with the image of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during clashes near Taksim Square in Istanbul. (Kostas Tsironis, AP)

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Geneva - Turkey must conduct a far-reaching, independent probe on its security forces' treatment of anti-government protesters who have taken to the streets across the country, the UN's human rights office said on Tuesday.

"We're concerned about reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers against protestors in Turkey," said Cecile Pouilly, spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

"We welcome the acknowledgement on the part of the authorities that disproportionate force may have been used, and their call for an investigation of law enforcement officers who are alleged to have broken the law and violated international human rights standards," Pouilly told reporters.

"Such investigations should be prompt, thorough, independent and impartial, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice," she added.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has admitted that "there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response". He has also promised that legal action would be taken against officers who acted disproportionately.

Pouilly did not comment on reports that one protester died in hospital after being shot during protests in southern Turkey, raising the death toll to at least two in the wave of demonstrations.

Right to peaceful assembly

But she underlined the importance of timely medical care for those hurt in the protests.

"There have also been reports that a high number of people have been arrested and dozens have been injured throughout Turkey," she said.

"All the injured must have prompt access to medical care, and human rights safeguards during arrest and detention must upheld to avoid unlawful and arbitrary detention," she added.

Pouilly said the UN's rights office also urged Turkey to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly was respected in full, while protestors should also make sure their demonstrations were non-violent.

Erdogan is facing down some of the fiercest protests in his decade-long rule.

His critics denounce what they say is his authoritarian approach to government, accusing him of trying to impose conservative Islamic reforms on secular Turkey.

The unrest, which began on Friday after police cracked down on a demonstration in Istanbul, quickly blew up into protests across the country.

Read more on:    un  |  recep tayyip erdogan  |  turkey  |  turkey protests

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