Lawyers condemn police brutality and racism in Istanbul

Lawyers condemn police brutality and racism in Istanbul
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Lawyers in Istanbul, including members of the Lawyers for Freedom Association, have condemned police brutality and racism following the arrest and assault of workers singing Kurdish songs and dancing.

The Lawyers for Freedom Association (OHD) Istanbul Branch held a press conference to address the alarming arrest and assault of workers who were detained while singing Kurdish songs and dancing Kurdish traditional halay in Istanbul's Kadikoy district, Arti Gercek reported.

Prominent figures including Esra Bilen, and Gurkan Istekli from OHD, along with representatives from other human rights organizations, spoke out against the severe violation of human rights, the use of torture, and the racial motivations behind the police's actions.

On Monday, police dispersed young Kurdish people who were singing and dancing in a lively park and seized their speakers, leading to a confrontation between the officers and the protesting youths.

In response to the protesters, the police resorted to using pepper spray, causing a chaotic clash between the officers and the youth.

In the midst of the clash, a police officer drew his firearm and discharged several rounds into the air.

As the commotion subsided, the police managed to apprehend at least four individuals, subjecting them to physical abuse, reverse handcuffing them and making them listen to Turkish nationalistic songs.


Esra Bilen, Co-Chair of the OHD Istanbul Branch, stated that they tried to reach out to the victims of violence after watching the footage but couldn't obtain any information from the authorities. She said, "We couldn't be involved in any process before the families reached out to us. As a result, we were confronted with a report that legitimizes torture. While objecting to the report before the prosecution, we demanded an automatic investigation into the torture, but the prosecution rejected it."

Idris Akpinar, who recorded the incidents on video, and who was also subjected to police violence during the incident, said that he witnessed the police intervention while returning home and went to the scene of the incident to start recording, thinking the altercation would escalate.


Akpinar said he was arrested for recording the video and said, "I was tortured until we arrived at the police station. The police asked me if I knew the people there. I told them I didn't know anyone. The violence continued throughout the journey, and then we were taken to the hospital. The police implied that the violence would continue at the hospital. They pressured us to deny being beaten to obtain a medical report. We had no choice but to say that we were not beaten. The doctor objected to our statement during the examination, but he couldn't do anything afterward and didn't issue a report."


Eren Keskin, the Human Rights Association Co-Chair, stated during the press conference, "We must recognize that this torture was carried out with racist motives. With the election results, we once again see that a racist policy is being pursued.”

“We are faced with a government that is hostile to the existence of the Kurds," Keskin said.

Nihat Demir, the chair of Dev Yapı-İs, a union for construction workers said the detainees included their members. "We are subjected to racist attacks everywhere. I wonder what they want from these workers who use their weekly leave to socialize," Demir said.


Finally, Gurkan Istekli, the President of the OHD, concluded the press conference by stating, "Looking at the AKP's government's promises to society, we can conclude that they consider torture as a deserving treatment for the Kurdish people. We want to reiterate that we will stand with the Kurdish people and all those who are subjected to racism. We declare that we will continue to pursue accountability for the torture that has been inflicted until justice is served."