Letters

Turkey Must End Violent Response to Protests

Science  19 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6143, pp. 236
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6143.236-a

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The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) reported that 8121 people were officially admitted to hospitals resulting from police violence between 31 May and 26 June (1). This number includes 5 deaths, 61 life-threatening injuries, 104 head traumas, and 11 ophthalmic injuries, one of which led to loss of an eye due to shots of tear gas canisters from short range (1). Turkish police have used excessive amounts of tear gas (lachrymatory agents) in public (2) and confined spaces such as hospitals or infirmaries, according to international media reports and the TTB (14). Such use of asphyxiating gases in confined spaces is not only extremely dangerous for public health (58), but also strictly limited by international agreements, such as the Geneva Protocol (9), to which Turkey is a signatory. Security forces have used 130,000 tear-gas cartridges in 20 days, and Turkey is planning to buy 100,000 new cartridges (10). Doctors and nurses treating patients affected by tear gas and other police brutality, as well as the Istanbul Medical Chamber General Secretary, have been apprehended by police (11, 12), a clear violation of customary international and human rights law (13). More than 4000 academics around the world have already signed a petition to protest the police brutality (14). We call upon the Turkish government to obey international law in the treatment of protesters and those providing medical treatment to them, and to start a good-faith dialogue with the protest movement.

Show of force.

Turkish riot police fire tear gas at protestors in Istanbul's Taksim Square.

CREDIT: OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS

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