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Turkish court charges activists over anti-government protests

An Istanbul prosecutor on Monday charged [Anadolu News report, in Turkish] five activists involved in anti-government protests last year. Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency [official website] reported that the protesters, members of a solidarity group, are charged with "forming a criminal gang, staging illegal demonstrations and public provocation" relating to their involvement in the June 2013 protests [JURIST report] over the government's planned demolition of Istanbul's Gezi Park. The detainees include Ali Cerkezoglu, Secretary General of the Istanbul Medical Association. The trial is set for June 12, with the protesters potentially facing up to 13 years in prison. Twenty-one other individuals face three-year prison sentences for violating protest laws.

The Republican People's Party [party website], Turkey's main opposition party, challenged [JURIST report] newly enacted legislation in March that would give parliament [official website] greater control over the judiciary. In February the Turkish parliament approved [JURIST report] legislation tightening internet restrictions, a move that opposition leaders are calling censorship of government corruption. A Diyarbakir court in December 2013 refused to release two members of parliament for the Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party. In June 2013 The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] called on [JURIST report] the Turkish government to ensure the right of peaceful assembly for its citizens during the Gezi Park demonstrations. The Associated Press (AP) [official website] reported [AP report] that doctors treating those wounded in the protests were harassed by police who assaulted them with tear gas and pressured them to reveal the names of patients.

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