[JURIST] Thousands of Turkish lawyers on Wednesday joined the ongoing protests [AP report] in Ankara and Istanbul by marching out of courthouses in black robes. This came as the result of incidents occurring during the protests on Tuesday, where a number of lawyers were handcuffed and dragged on the ground [AP report] by police officers. Prosecutors in Istanbul had begun to investigate the use of excessive force by police officers over the course of the protests. On Tuesday alone, more than 600 individuals were injured during the protests and tear gas was flooded into Taksim Square [BBC report] by police. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) [advocacy website] has reported that police action during the protests has reached levels of torture and ill treatment [HRFT report] and that it will begin filing criminal complaints against officers who have violated international human rights conventions.
Protests have been raging for almost two weeks in Turkey with no sign of ending. Last week the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged [JURIST report] the Turkish government to ensure the right of its citizens to assemble freely and in a peaceful manner. On Sunday Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on police [JURIST report] to use non-violent tactics with civilians. This outbreak of violence comes about one month after Turkey’s Grand National Assembly approved amendments [BIA summary] to the country’s anti-terrorism laws to bring them more in line with EU freedom of expression standards. In February the Council of Europe urged Turkey to move more quickly [JURIST report] in its efforts to reform the laws governing freedom of expression and anti-terrorism.