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UN rights chief urges Turkish authorities to investigate shooting of unarmed civilians

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Monday urged Turkey to investigate the shooting of unarmed civilians [press release]. The incident in Cizre [Reuters report], a city in the mainly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey, occurred on January 20 and involved security officials shooting at members of the opposition Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that were attempting to rescue people from earlier incidents. Refik Tekin is the journalist that caught the incident on video [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT], and Zeid called it an "extremely shocking" film [NYT report]. Overall, around 10 people were wounded, and Zeid wants Turkey to launch an independent investigation to prosecute any state officials that are committing human rights violations. Additionally, Tekin could potentially face charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. When discussing the outcome of this situation as a whole, Zeid said, "[f]ilming an atrocity is not a crime, but shooting unarmed civilians most certainly is."

In December the EU stated that Turkey must adhere to human rights criteria in order to join [JURIST report]. In November a prominent lawyer was fatally shot while giving a press conference after stating that the PKK is not a terrorist organization [JURIST report]. Earlier in November the EU released a report [press release] criticizing Turkey for human rights and governmental issues [JURIST report], which they said have not been addressed through new reforms. The report discussed how issues such as the refugee crisis and oppression of journalists could be cured by adopting reforms that mirror the standards set by surrounding EU nations. The report stated that "[c]ore issues of the rule of law, fundamental rights, strengthening democratic institutions, including public administration reform, as well as economic development and competitiveness remain key priorities."

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