End Abusive Use of Teargas by Turkish Police

Gezi Park

Target: President of Turkey Abdullah Gul

Goal: Restrict police use of teargas and compensate victims of abuse

During a recent protest Turkish police fired teargas canisters directly into a crowd of protesters, which included a number of children. Many protestors were wounded by this incorrect use of teargas–many of the protesters are now comatose, and at least one protester who was struck by a teargas canister lost his eye following the event. The Turkish government must apologize for this improper and violent use of teargas, and enact restrictions on police so that events such as this never occur again. In addition, the injured protesters should be appropriately compensated.

There is considerable evidence that the use of teargas by police was not only incorrect, but unwarranted: Turkish police gassed a number of buildings in the area, despite little evidence of violent activity occurring therein, including one hospital. They also assaulted several unarmed, immobile protesters with pepper spray and water cannons. In addition, the protester who lost his eye described the police open firing at other protester’s head at point-blank range, despite the obvious potential for injury.

This is only the latest incident in a pattern of inappropriate use of force against protesters: in an earlier June protest, 11 people were blinded when police began to open fire on a crowd with rubber bullets, despite having no provocation to do so. Furthermore, a report by the Turkish Medical association following examination of the protester’s injuries concluded  “the aim was not only to disperse the crowds, but also to punish.”

Unfortunately, the Turkish government has so far refused to apologize for the injustices committed by the police, instead merely calling the protesters “hooligans… anarchists and terrorists.” They have also refused to change the policies of the police force, or necessitate education on safe use of nonlethal weapons for officers, despite an order from the European Court of Human Rights to do so. We must tell them that this is inappropriate, and demand reforms and compensation for the injured parties.


Dear President Abdullah Gul,

Turkish police recently broke up a protest in Gezi Park by firing teargas canisters directly at protesters at close range, causing severe injuries and causing at least on protester to lose his eye. This was clearly incorrect use of teargas, and furthermore, a report by the Turkish Medical Association following examinations of the injuries shows that the attack was made with malice.

This clear, abusive, violent use of teargas canisters is both illegal and highly inappropriate. The government should mandate appropriate training for officers, and appropriately compensate the victims of these vicious attacks.


[Your Name Here]

Image Credit: Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons

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