The human rights group, Amnesty International has issued a report about human rights abuses that occurred in Turkey back in May and June of this year. According to the report protesters had gathered in Istanbul to protest the demolition of Gezi Park and its subsequent replacement with a shopping mall. In response to the protesters occupying the park, riot police were dispatched. These police allegedly used live ammunition and tear gas on the protesters. These police also are said to have beat and sexually assaulted the protesters. Two men died from the beatings. This report was released as the same time that the Turkish government announced its own investigation into the incident and unveiled several reforms to democratize Turkey. However, Amnesty International states that these reforms fall short of preventing these abuses from occurring in the future and brings to light many other human rights issues that are still problematic in Turkey. One major problem these reforms did not address is the treatment of the nation’s Kurdish people (an ethnic minority). Turkey has banned the teaching of the Kurdish language in public schools and has in recent years arrested many Kurds accused them of being part of a Kurdish militia group. The reform also curtailed dealing with hate crimes based on gender or sexuality.
First of all, the protest in Istanbul shows several sociological concepts. The protest itself goes against normative behavior. Protests are anti-normative behavior used by people to draw attention to an issue. The abuses incurred by the protesters illuminate several concerns. If the riot police are guilty of killing and sexually assaulting protesters and are not punished there is corruption. The fact that the police have reportedly sexually assaulted women protesters shows genderization of crime. The other abuses in Turkey such as the incarceration of many Kurds and the banning of the Kurdish language being taught in schools puts Turkey on the far end of the continuum of intergroup relations, opposite of the ideal of multiculturalism. Ultimately, this article shows that Turkey is violating many ideals set forth in the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. They are violating the rights of protection from arbitrary arrest, inhumane treatment, the right to security of person, the right to peaceful assembly, and most importantly the right to life. If these abuses are continued to be allowed, where will the line be drawn? If these abuses are allowed, corruption and inequality could spiral to absolute extremes and then these essential rights would be meaningless. A human right is a right for anyone, anywhere and if violations are allowed to happen in one nation, the rest of the world is green lighting these abuses to occur anywhere.