Turkey’s crackdown on dissent continued in 2019 – Amnesty International report

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Turkish government’s crackdown on dissent continued in 2019 despite the end of the two-year-long state of emergency in July 2018, Amnesty International said in its annual report reviewing the situation of human rights across the world.

“Thousands of people were held in lengthy and punitive pre-trial detention, often without any credible evidence of their having committed any crime recognisable under international law,” the report said.

There were severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said.

People perceived critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, in particular journalists, political activists and human rights defenders, were detained or faced trumped-up criminal charges, the rights group said.

Meanwhile, six men, accused of links to the Gülen movement who went missing in February, suspected of having been the victims of enforced disappearance, resurfaced in police detention five to nine months after their disappearance, Amnesty International said.

“The six men were reported by their families to have lost weight, be very pale and nervous. The men reportedly did not disclose what had happened to them during the months they were disappeared.”

In a similar case, Human Rights Watch urged Turkish authorities on Wednesday, to urgently carry out an effective investigation into credible testimony from a man in pretrial detention that state agents forcibly disappeared him for nine months and tortured him.

“The man, Gökhan Türkmen, is one of at least two dozen people over the past three years whose families, or in a few cases the individuals themselves, have said they have been abducted and forcibly disappeared by government agents for many months,” HRW said.

The rights group has examined 16 such cases since 2017 and Turkish authorities have yet to effectively investigate any of them, according to HRW.

“The authorities should urgently investigate Türkmen’s allegations that he was abducted, tortured, and pressured to remain silent, and ensure that he and his family are protected against reprisals for speaking out,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW.

Ahval

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