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30.04.2008 - Source: Amnesty International
Freedom of assembly ("Turkey: Respect the rights and safety of demonstrators") [ID 23424]
"Amnesty International is concerned that in a number of recent cases the right to freedom of peaceful assembly has been violated, that excessive force has been used against demonstrators and that detained demonstrators may have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. These include:
• During and after a peaceful demonstration in Istanbul on 1 May in 2007 police used batons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. 38 people lodged a criminal complaint alleging that they had been injured by police at the demonstration. However, on 12 March 2008 the Chief Prosecutor ruled that the force was legal because the demonstration was not authorised by the authorities. This decision contradicts the requirement that force used by law enforcement be proportionate whether or not an assembly has been authorized.
• Authorities in south-eastern Turkey banned Newroz/Nevroz celebrations after 21 March 2008, a decision which is arbitrary and does not represent a legitimate restriction to the freedom of assembly. Newroz/Nevroz is the traditional festival of New Year in the Persian calendar which celebrates the arrival of spring at the March 21 equinox and which is celebrated especially by the Kurdish community in Turkey. In the violent confrontations that ensued after police used force to disperse demonstrators in those cities where assembly had been restricted, law enforcement officials used excessive force including the use of plastic bullets and live ammunition injuring and killing three people. Television footage showed law enforcement officials severely beating demonstrators.
• During violent demonstrations in several towns and cities centring on Diyarbakir in March 2006, 10 demonstrators and onlookers were killed, four of them children. There were widespread allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in police custody. Following the Diyarbakir protests 34 investigations into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment were initiated by prosecutors and 72 administrative investigations were reportedly launched by the Ministry of the Interior. However, more than two years after the incidents took place, not a single prosecution has been opened against any member of the security forces, either in relation to the allegations of torture or the fatal shootings that occurred during the demonstrations."
09.04.2008 - Source: Amnesty International
Hakkari: Fifteen-year-old Cuneyt Ertus was arrested by police after Newroz (New Year) demonstrations; he was apparently ill-treated during and after his arrest ("Urgent Action 90/08 [EUR 44/007/2008]") [ID 23419]
11.03.2008 - Source: US Department of State
Killing of pro-Ocalan demonstrator ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2007") [ID 22796]
"In February 2005 demonstrators in Mersin Province claimed police shot and killed Umit Gonultas during a protest in support of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The HRA and HRF reported that the Mersin prosecutor was continuing a "secret" investigation at year's end."
11.03.2008 - Source: US Department of State
Detention of persons involved in demonstrations ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2007") [ID 22896]
"The Ministry of Interior reported that police detained 2508 persons involved in demonstrations through November 22.
On January 10, police used excessive force to disperse approximately 80 members of the Rights and Freedom Association who had gathered in Istanbul's Taksim Square to protest problems in prisons. According to the HRF, police beat six demonstrators and broke the leg of Ibrahim Gokce, a member of the music group Grup Yorum.
Approximately 200 public events around the country celebrating the Nevruz holiday in March were generally peaceful despite widespread predictions that tensions over the situation in the southeast would lead to serious violence; however, police detained 431 persons for displaying PKK flags and posters of jailed PKK leader Ocalan. Four demonstrators and seven police officers were injured during demonstrations.
On May 1, police used excessive force to disperse approximately 1,000 demonstrators who gathered without legal permission in Istanbul's Taksim Square to mark the 30th anniversary of "Bloody Labor Day," when over 30 persons were killed in Taksim Square after gun shots into the crowd from an unknown source prompted a stampede. Istanbul's governor denied permits for use of the square for this year's demonstrations, but unions associated with the Revolutionary Workers' Unions publicized their determination to hold them anyway. As marchers proceeded to the square, police used water canons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, including journalists covering the event. Seventy-five-year old Ibrahim Sevindik, who was sitting at a cafe in the square, died from exposure to the gas. Police detained more than 700 persons but released many the same evening. There were no reported trials resulting from the May 1 incident.
The trial of nine DEHAP officials for being members of an illegal organization continued at year's end. The nine officials were charged after they alleged that police shot and killed Umit Gonultas during a February protest in Mersin Province in support of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK. According to the HRA, there was no evidence that demonstrators used weapons during the altercation. No one had been prosecuted for the death of Gonultas by year's end.
On October 16, a Diyarbakir heavy penal court sentenced Kurdish activists Ibrahim Guclu, Zeynel Abidin Ozalp, and Ahmet Sedat Ogur to one year in prison under the Antiterror Law for demonstrating against a possible Turkish military operation in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The defendants had announced they planned to walk from Diyarbakir to the Iraqi border as a symbolic protest, but were apprehended as they left Diyarbakir.
The government initiated an investigation, which continued at year's end, into the 2005 death of Hasan Is, who relatives and other witnesses claimed was shot and killed by police during an altercation at a funeral ceremony for PKK militants in Batman Province.
In March 2006 the first session of a case against 54 police officers began for alleged use of excessive force during a March 2005 International Women's Day demonstration in Istanbul. The case was ongoing at year's end.
The six juveniles charged for allegedly burning the Turkish flag during Nevruz celebrations in Mersin in 2005 remained free while their trial continued at the heavy penal court at year's end.
During a 2005 rally in support of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in Siirt Province, police shot and killed demonstrator Abdullah Aydan and detained 39 other demonstrators. The trial court acquitted a police sergeant of the murder. The chief prosecutor of the court of appeals requested the court's penal department to overturn the acquittal. At year's end the penal department had not issued a ruling. The public prosecutor dismissed the demonstrators' complaint that alleged the police beat and harassed them. Prosecutors later charged the demonstrators for chanting illegal slogans and performing an illegal march. The trial continued in Diyarbakir Penal Court at year's end."
06.11.2007 - Source: European Commission
Freedom of assembly ("Turkey 2007 Progress Report [SEC(2007) 1436]") [ID 22362]
"The legal framework for freedom of assembly is broadly in line with European standards. Citizens have been able to exercise this right without interference by the authorities or the security forces in most cases. Mass demonstrations were held peacefully in Ankara, Istanbul and Ýzmir during the presidential election period. Few violent incidents were reported during the Kurdish New Year (Newroz) celebrations.
However, there is an investigation into the use of excessive force by the police at the 1 May demonstration in Istanbul when more than 700 persons were detained."
08.05.2007 - Source: EurasiaNet
Series of massive pro-secularism rallies held in different cities; many protesters express concern that government makes barely noticed changes on local level that erode the country’s secular foundations ("Local actions add up to a national crisis in Turkey") [ID 19896]
29.04.2007 - Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Istanbul: Approximately one million supporters of secularism rally amid tensions over election of new president ("One Million Rally In Support Of Secularism In Istanbul") [ID 19656]
16.04.2007 - Source: EurasiaNet
Ankara: 370,000 people rallied against their religious-minded Prime Minister Erdogan; it was a demonstration that emphasized both the opposition that Erdogan will face if he stands for president, and the depths of the country’s cultural division ("Ankara Protest Opens Window on Turkey's Brewing Culture War") [ID 19661]
06.03.2007 - Source: US Department of State
Freedom of assembly (as of 2006) ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2006") [ID 19900]
"The law provides for freedom of assembly; however, the government restricted this right in practice. Significant prior notification to authorities is required for a gathering, and authorities may restrict meetings to designated sites.
Police killed demonstrators during the year. For example, government security forces killed a number of persons during violent riots in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which emanated from large public funeral processions held for dead PKK members. The HRF reported that in late March and early April, during rioting, the police and military killed 14 persons, including five children.
The trial of nine DEHAP officials for being members of an illegal organization continued at year's end. The nine officials were charged after they alleged that police shot and killed Umit Gonultas during a protest in support of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK. According to the HRA, there was no evidence that demonstrators used weapons during the altercation. No one has been prosecuted for the death of Gonultas.
No investigation was initiated by law enforcement into the 2005 death of Hasan Is, whose relatives and other witnesses claimed was shot and killed by police during an altercation at a funeral ceremony for PKK militants in Batman Province.
No further information was available regarding allegations that in October 2005 Istanbul police shot and killed Atilla Gecmis during demonstrations in support of Abdullah Ocalan.
Police beat, abused, detained, or harassed some demonstrators.
On March 14, a local prosecutor opened a case against 54 police officers alleged to have used excessive force during a March 2005 International Women's Day demonstration in Istanbul. The case was ongoing at year's end.
On May 2 security forces arrested three Kurdish activists--Ibrahim Guclu, Zeynel Abidin Ozalp, and Ahmet Sedat Ogur--as they prepared to peacefully protest the recent killings of civilians by security forces in the southeast. The men were charged under the Antiterror Law for "making propaganda for the PKK." Their trial continued at year's end.
Unlike the previous year, police did not interfere in Nevruz celebrations. There was no information regarding police detention of DEHAP officials and students in connection with 2005 Nevruz celebrations.
The six juveniles charged for allegedly burning the Turkish flag during Nevruz celebrations in Mersin in 2005 remained free while their trial continued at year's end.
During a September 2005 rally in support of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in Siirt province police detained 39 demonstrators; one of the demonstrators died. The public prosecutor dismissed the demonstrators' complaint that alleged the police beat and harassed them. Prosecutors later charged the demonstrators for chanting illegal slogans and performing an illegal march. The trial continued at year's end. Prosecutors charged Police Sergeant G.Y. in connection with the death of 35 year-old-demonstrator Abdullah Aydan. The court acquitted the sergeant in July.
The October 2005 ruling that ordered 20 defendants to pay fines of $74 (100 lira) each for hanging placards with the letters found in Kurdish but not Turkish was under appeal at year's end.
Proceedings continued at year's end in the appeal of the 2004 conviction of HRF psychiatrist Alp Ayan and codefendants for holding an unauthorized demonstration."
08.11.2006 - Source: European Commission
Public demonstrations are subject to fewer restrictions; security forces used in some cases excessive force, especially when demonstrations were carried out without permission ("Turkey 2006 Progress Report") [ID 19023]
"As regards freedom of assembly, public demonstrations are subject to fewer restrictions than in the past. However, in some cases security forces used excessive force, especially when the demonstrations were carried out without permission.
The administrative investigations have been finalised into the incidents during a demonstration promoting women's rights in March 2005. Three members of the Istanbul Directorate of Security have been punished with a reprimand due to “Failure in undertaking the duty of training and supervising members under their command.” A further six staff members have been punished with a salary deduction due to “disproportionate use of force when dispersing the demonstrators and speaking to or treating the public in a degrading manner”. The investigation launched by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul against seven police officers is currently ongoing."
10.10.2006 - Source: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
In 2006, police continues to intervene in many of the demonstrations and open-air meetings organized by Kurdish activists ("A Minority Policy of Systematic Negation") [ID 18260]
"Assembly in Turkey is regulated by the Law on Assemblies, Meetings, and Demonstrations, which was amended in August 2003 to decrease various restrictions on public demonstrations. Yet, in 2006, the concern remains that police continues to intervene in many of the demonstrations and open-air meetings organized by Kurdish activists, students, trade unionists, human rights groups or left-wing groups. Excessive security measures and the negative attitudes of the police toward demonstrators have led to tensions, which not unusually end up with the prosecution of activists for peaceful assembly."
08.03.2006 - Source: US Department of State
Freedom of assembly ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2005") [#46152], [ID 15863]
"The law provides for freedom of assembly; however, the government restricted this right in practice. Significant prior notification to authorities is required for a gathering, and authorities may restrict meetings to designated sites.
Police killed demonstrators during the year. For example, in February demonstrators in Mersin Province claimed police shot and killed Umit Gonultas during a protest in support of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the terrorist PKK. According to the HRA, there was no evidence that demonstrators used weapons during the altercation. Interior ministry inspectors determined that police did not shoot Gonultas. Prosecutors opened a case against nine members of the DEHAP for their role in a statement protesting the shooting. The DEHAP officials were charged with being members of an illegal organization; their trial continued at year's end.
In August the body of Hasan Is was discovered following clashes between security forces and demonstrators during funeral ceremonies for PKK militants in Batman Province. Relatives and other witnesses claimed police shot and killed Is during the altercation. However, law enforcement authorities denied that police were responsible.
In October Istanbul police shot and killed Atilla Gecmis during demonstrations in support of Abdullah Ocalan. Demonstrators reportedly threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police, causing police to open fire.
Police beat, abused, detained, or harassed some demonstrators. In March police repeatedly kicked and beat protestors participating in International Women's Day demonstrations in Istanbul. Following an investigation, the Interior Ministry reprimanded three senior-level law enforcement officials and fined six officers, although the ministry in December reportedly promoted one of the senior‑level officers. In December prosecutors charged 54 police officers with using excessive force during the incident.
Also in March police intervened in Nevruz celebrations in a number of cities. HRF reported clashes between police and celebrants in Siirt Province, during which police opened fire, injuring a child. Police in Edirne raided a house and detained a number of local DEHAP officials and students in connection with Nevruz celebrations. During a separate incident in Siirt, police beat juveniles who stoned the police station after police prevented Nevruz celebrations, according to HRF.
In Mersin Province police arrested six juveniles for allegedly trying to burn the national flag during Nevruz celebrations. The juveniles faced charges in court (see Section 2.a.)
In May the Justice Ministry cancelled a seminar on torture prevention for physicians and judicial authorities. Ministry officials announced the cancellation one day before the event was scheduled to start in Istanbul, asserting that organizers had failed to submit the required documents. Representatives of the Turkish Medical Association maintained that all the paperwork had been filed and said the Justice Ministry was involved with the organization of the event.
In September police in Siirt Province allegedly detained and beat 20 demonstrators who had participated in a rally to protest the prison conditions of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
In October a Siirt court ordered 20 defendants to pay fines of $74 (100 lira) each for hanging placards with the letters "W" and "Q" during Nevruz celebrations in 2004. The letters are found in Kurdish but not Turkish; the law prohibits the use of non-Turkish letters in printed material. The ruling was under appeal at year's end.
Proceedings continued at year's end in the appeal of the 2004 conviction of HRF psychiatrist Alp Ayan and co‑defendants for holding an unauthorized demonstration."
08.03.2006 - Source: US Department of State
Freedom of association ("Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2005") [#46152], [ID 15864]
"The law provides for freedom of association; however, there were some restrictions on this right in practice.
The law requires associations to notify authorities before engaging in activities such as founding an association, interacting with international organizations, and receiving financial support from abroad. Associations are required to provide detailed documents on such activities, and representatives of associations said this placed an undue burden on their operations.
Foreign associations wishing to conduct programs in the country are required to receive separate permission from the Interior Ministry for each activity. They are also required to submit detailed reports to the government on each activity, despite the fact that local partners are also required to report on the same projects.
According to the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey, an NGO advocacy organization, the criteria for NGOs to obtain public benefit status, entitling them to certain tax exemptions, are restrictive and complicated. Applications for public benefit status must be approved by the Council of Ministers. The law does not allow applicants to appeal if their petitions are rejected.
In May the High Court of Appeals ordered the closure of the teachers' union Egitim-Sen on the grounds that the union's bylaws violated the constitution by advocating the right of individuals to receive education in their mother tongue (see section 6.a.)."
18.11.2005 - Source: Human Rights Watch
Police have repeatedly used disproportionate and lethal force against unarmed demonstrators in the past year; government has taken no action to punish them so far ("Turkey: Police Killings Follow Attack on Bookstore") [#39856], [ID 13429]
10.2005 - Source: UK Border Agency (Home Office)
Report on Freedom of Assembly ("Country Report - October 2005") [#40563], [ID 13430]
for more detailed information seek out original document page 108
"6.153 The European Commission 2005 report stated:
“As regards the right to peaceful assembly, while public demonstrations are subject to fewer restrictions than in the past, a number of incidents have raised concerns. In several regions brutality by the security forces has been alleged in the context of demonstrations and outdoor NGO press statements. During a demonstration marking international Women’s Day in Istanbul on 6 March 2005, police intervened with disproportionate force, using tear gas and truncheons and injuring a number of participants. The government quickly conveyed the message that such behaviour on the part of the police is unacceptable… Following this incident, in April 2005 the Ministry of Interior issued a circular, reminding governors of the importance of implementing the August 2004 circular, which sought to prevent the use of disproportionate force by members of the security forces and ensure appropriate sanctions when excessive force is used. The new circular emphasises the need for the inspection body within the Ministry of Interior to exercise more vigilance in ensuring consistent implementation. In practice the implementation of such circulars varies considerably from province to province. A meeting was convened in Ankara in March  by the authorities with the governors of all Turkish provinces with a view to raising awareness regarding the implementation of reforms in the area of peaceful assembly.” [71e] (p30)
6.154 The EC 2005 report also recorded that “In apparent contravention of the June 2004 circular regarding demonstrations, marches and press conferences, NGOs continue to report that the police video-tape their outdoor, and occasionally indoor, meetings.” [71e] (p30)
6.155 As noted in the International Helsinki Federation (IHF) report of June 2005:
“The Law on Assemblies, Meetings and Demonstrations was amended in August 2003. According to the new law, governors were no longer allowed to ban demonstrations and the previous authority of governors or the Interior Ministry to postpone demonstrations and meetings for 30 days was reduced to ten days. In addition, the maximum period for the postponement or ban of a meeting was brought down from three months to one month. Organizers still needed to notify the security authorities before demonstrations or meetings, which the police often took as an authorization process. Police often intervened in demonstrations and open-air meetings organized by Kurdish activists, students, unionists, human rights groups or left-wing groups. Excessive security measures and the negative attitudes of the police toward demonstrators led to tensions. In August , the Interior Ministry instructed the police to avoid excessive force in intervening in demonstrations and meetings, and requested the authorities to punish the police when they used excessive force. However, the government often protected the police when criticized for excessive force and harassment of persons, especially Kurdish activists, left-wing unionists and students, involved in peaceful assembly.” [10a] (p4)
6.156 Amnesty International’s annual report on Turkey (covering the events of 2004), published May 2005 stated that:
“The use of excessive force against demonstrators remained a serious concern…A high proportion of complaints of ill-treatment related to excessive use of force by the security forces during demonstrations. Despite a circular from the Minister of the Interior instructing officers not to use disproportionate force, there were continuing reports of protesters being beaten and sprayed with pepper gas even after they had been apprehended.” [12r]"
08.2005 - Source: Amnesty International
Continous human rights violations; response of administration and government on reports about torture und mistreatment still inconvenient; limitation of the right of expression by constitution and the new penal law ("Memorandum on AI's recommendations to the government to address human rights violations") [#38256], [ID 13431]
"FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
Amnesty International welcomes the circular issued last year by Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu which was designed to improve the right to assembly. While it did bring some much needed clarity to the legal status of the reading out of press releases, the organization considers that there is still the potential for confusion. The organization notes that – in practice – there are still unnecessary restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly. The UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders has noted such restrictions:
…in particular with regard to places where public gatherings can be held – the law imposes a 300-metre distance from any public building or major road crossing. Demonstrations and press releases by nature seek to draw public attention, and restricting them to places away from crowded streets and areas minimizes their ability to reach citizens, and can be seen as defeating the object of the right.
Amnesty International believes that further steps are needed to remove such restrictions to ensure the right to freedom of assembly is fully guaranteed. This is especially important since those who violate these restrictions peacefully may be subjected to disproportionate force by security forces responsible for policing of such demonstrations. Amnesty International would like to remind the authorities that participation in a demonstration without permission does not justify use of disproportionate force."
25.05.2005 - Source: Amnesty International
Excessive use of force during demonstrations ("Annual Report 2005") [#32304], [ID 13432]
"A high proportion of complaints of ill-treatment related to excessive use of force by the security forces during demonstrations. Despite a circular from the Minister of the Interior instructing officers not to use disproportionate force, there were continuing reports of protesters being beaten and sprayed with pepper gas even after they had been apprehended."
19.05.2005 - Source: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Peaceful assembly ("Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America, Report 2005 (Events of 2004)") [#32120], [ID 13433]
"The Law on Assemblies, Meetings and Demonstrations was amended in August 2003. According to the new law, governors were no longer allowed to ban demonstrations and the previous authority of governors or the Interior Ministry to postpone demonstrations and meetings for 30 days was reduced to ten days. In addition, the maximum period for the postponement or ban of a meeting was brought down from three months to one month. Organizers still needed to notify the security authorities before demonstrations or meetings, which the police often took as an authorization process.
Police often intervened in demonstrations and open-air meetings organized by Kurdish activists, students, unionists, human rights groups or left-wing groups. Excessive security measures and the negative attitudes of the police toward demonstrators led to tensions.
In August, the Interior Ministry instructed the police to avoid excessive force in intervening in demonstrations and meetings, and requested the authorities to punish the police when they used excessive force. However, the government often protected the police when criticized for excessive force and harassment of persons, especially Kurdish activists, left-wing unionists and students, involved in peaceful assembly.
According to HRA, eight demonstrations and meetings were banned and the security forces used excessive force in 124 demonstrations and meetings. More than 500 demonstrators, including political and minority activists, human rights activists, students and journalists, were wounded during intervention in these actions.
Prosecutions and punishment of activists, including Kurdish and human rights activists, for peaceful assembly continued in 2004. At least 134 persons were sentenced to prison terms for participating in peaceful demonstrations or meetings, according to HRA. A large number of unionists were arrested and prosecuted for participating in protest demonstrations and meetings on charges including “stopping work illegally.”
• May Day celebrations were cancelled in Diyarbakir because the governorate allocated a distant location for the meeting. Security forces used force against persons making press statements in protest in several locations. Authorities stated that 41 unionists were detained for preparing for a demonstration in Diyarbakir on May Day.
• On 20 May, police and gendarmerie intervened in Spring Festival activities at Thrace University in Edirne on charges that the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s poster had been seen on the premises. Using pepper gas and tear gas, police arrested some 87 students. Twenty of the students were detained on 24 May while the other students were released. Their lawyers organized a press conference in the office of the HRA Istanbul branch on 29 May, stating that the 20 students had been arrested arbitrarily. It was reported that the students had been taken to Edirne Closed Prison, forced to strip naked, searched in a degrading manner, put in single cells and their hair had been forcibly cut off. Police officers intervened in the students’ activities without the permission of Edirne Governorate."
10.03.2005 - Source: BBC News
Istanbul: Female protesters at a Women's Day rally beaten by police ("MEPs slam 'brutal' Turkish police") [#30021], [ID 13434]
06.10.2004 - Source: European Commission
Ministry of the Interior instructs local authorities not to impinge on the rights of peaceful assembly ("Regular Report 2004 on Turkey´s progress towards accession") [#26161], [ID 13435]
"The Ministry of the Interior issued a circular in June 2004 instructing the local authorities to deal with demonstrations, marches and press conferences in a way that does not impinge on the rights of peaceful assembly and avoids placing restrictions on the organisers that are not in accordance with the Law on Public Meetings and Demonstration Marches. The circular emphasises that NGOs’ activities should not be subject to video recording unless there is a request from the authorities. Moreover, provided that civil society organisations’ public press statements fulfil a number of conditions, such as being less than one hour long and not obstructing traffic or daily life, they will no longer fall under this law. Nonetheless, existing administrative provisions could still allow Governors to restrict public activities in the interest of public order or to regulate the use of slogans and the text on banners. In August 2004 the Ministry of the Interior issued a further circular aimed at both preventing and ensuring the appropriate sanctions for the use of disproportionate force by members of the security forces. The circular encourages Governors to treat this matter as a priority, conduct appropriate studies and ensure disciplinary action is taken where necessary."
06.10.2004 - Source: European Commission
In the first seven months of 2004 the number of detentions related to demonstrations have significantly increased as compared to 2003 ("Regular Report 2004 on Turkey´s progress towards accession") [#26161], [ID 13436]
"With respect to peaceful assembly, official figures indicate that public demonstrations are subject to fewer restrictions than in the past: in the first eight months of 2004 12 demonstrations were prohibited or postponed as compared with 41 in 2003, 95 in 2002 and 141 in 2001. Demonstrations and public meetings are closely monitored by the security forces and cases of intimidation, excessive use of force and detention are still reported. NGOs have indicated that in the first seven months of 2004 the number of detentions related to demonstrations have significantly increased as compared to 2003. Press conferences and other activities organised by NGOs are routinely subject to videotaping by the local police, especially in the Southeast. This includes in many instances the videotaping of participants’ identification cards. Those who do not present their identification are often placed in custody."
28.04.2004 - Source: Human Rights Watch
Police violence and local government restrictions are undermining freedom of assembly and the reform process ("Turkey: Curbs on Assembly Undermine EU Bid") [#21659], [ID 13437]
21.06.2003 - Source: Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe
Non-authorized demonstrations allowed, if they are peaceful; liberalization not completely realized yet ("Zur aktuellen Situation - Juni 2003 ") [#14557], [ID 13438]
"Die Verfassungsreform vom August 2002 bekräftigte das Recht auf freie Meinungsäusserung und lässt unbewilligte Demonstrationen zu, sofern diese nicht gewalttätig sind. Grössere Demonstrationen erfordern wie bei uns eine vorherige Bewilligung. In den ersten Wochen nach Verabschiedung der neuen Verfassungsbestimmungen konnte anlässlich ver-schiedener friedlicher Demonstrationen ein Paradigmenwechsel der Polizei festgestellt wer-den. Diese griff friedliche Demonstrierende nicht mehr an. Doch im Zusammenhang mit den Demonstrationen gegen die Isolationshaft von Abdullah Öcalan, die Situation in den Gefängnissen und gegen den Krieg im Irak wurde die oben erwähnte Liberalisierung nicht ver-wirklicht, es ist bei zahlreichen Demonstrationen zu gewaltsamen Eingriffen der Polizei ge-kommen. Auf von der KADEK lancierte Kampagnen reagiert die Polizei regelmässig äus-serst gereizt. Es wird wohl noch lange Zeit dauern bis es innerhalb der Sicherheitskräfte zu einem Mentalitätswechsel kommt. Ermutigend ist, dass der Sicherheitsdirektor von Istanbul vor dem 1. Mai angekündigt hatte, dass die Polizei nur eingreifen würde, wenn es zu Sach-beschädigungen von Seiten der Demonstrierenden komme."
10.2002 - Source: UK Border Agency (Home Office)
UK Home Office: ("Country Assessment - October 2002") [#9887], [ID 13440]
"6.55 The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly. Under Law No. 2911 of 6 June 1983 on Assembly and Demonstrations, no authorisation need be applied for in order to hold a demonstration, but written notice of a meeting must be submitted to the governor of the relevant province or district at least 72 hours in advance if it is to be held outside the headquarters of an organisation. [2(a)] (The reform package of 3 August 2002 reduces the 72 hours to 48 hours). [66(a)]The same rule applies to the distribution of pamphlets, giving of press statements and issuing of publications. The governor issues the organisers with an acknowledgement of receipt, which is sufficient for the demonstration to take place. A refusal to issue a receipt is confirmed in writing by a notary, and the notarial instrument is regarded as acknowledgement of receipt. [2(a)]
6.56 However, planned demonstrations are often stopped from going ahead. The governor must inform the organisers of the ban at least 24 hours before the scheduled beginning of the demonstration. The Turkish authorities may also order that certain meetings be held at designated sites only. A ban on demonstrations for up to a maximum of three months may also be imposed on an entire region. The governor of Ankara province used this power on 11 April 2001 to ban demonstrations for a month. Mass demonstrations had been held shortly before following the economic crisis in Turkey. [2(a)]
6.57 Reasons for banning demonstrations are laid down by Law No. 2911. They include disrupting public order, national security, activities against the character of the republic, potential use of force, threatening the indivisible unity of the Turkish State. Associations and trades unions may not organise demonstrations concerning subjects which do not fall within their objectives. These provisions leave considerable leeway for banning demonstrations. [2(a)]
6.58 Meetings which are held despite a ban are dispersed by the security forces. In the past they have often used force to this end. According to the 2000 report by the US State Department, the use of force by security forces in breaking up demonstrations has fallen considerably since 1999, and by 2000 there were only a few cases in which force was used. The staging of unauthorised demonstrations may also lead to prosecution. [2(a)]
6.59 In October 2001 a constitutional amendment expanded the rights of free assembly and association by placing the emphasis on citizens' rights and reducing the number of restrictions on their activities. [5(d)]
6.60 The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, there are some restrictions on this right. Associations and foundations must submit their charters for government approval, which is a lengthy and cumbersome process. The Government has closed some opposition political parties, alleging that they were centres for illegal activity. In an October 2001 amendment to the Constitution, Parliament removed the ban on challenging the constitutionality of the highly restrictive Law on Associations (Law No. 2908 of 6 October 1983); no court cases had been brought under the law by the end of 2001. In June 2001 Prime Minister Ecevit called on civil servants to treat civil society and NGOs with tolerance rather than restrictions and prohibitions, stressing the need to comply with EU standards. [5(d)] There were several detailed amendments, as part of the 2002 reform packages, to the Law on Associations, but its generally restrictive character has been maintained. 
6.61 All activities by political parties were banned by the National Security Council (NSC) on 12 September 1980, and all parties were dissolved on 16 October 1981, prior to the formation of a Consultative Assembly. From May 1983 new parties were allowed to form, but their participation in the general election was subject to strict rules: each had to have 30 party founders approved by the NSC and party organisations in at least 34 of the provinces, while candidates for the election were also subject to veto by the military rulers. Legislation enacted in March 1986 stipulated that a party must have organisations in at least 45 provinces, and in two-thirds of the districts in each of these provinces, in order to take part in an election. Parties can take seats in the National Assembly only if they win at least 10% of the national vote. [1(a)]
6.62 In June 1992, the True Path and Social Democratic Populist parties sent proposals for the first "instalment" of constitutional changes to all Turkey's opposition parties, whether represented in Parliament or not. The changes proposed were generally in the direction of greater democracy. However, they were opposed by the Welfare Party (Refah), and debates and votes in June 1995 showed that other religious and conservative hard-liners in ANAP and DYP were voting with the Welfare Party. At the eleventh hour a slimmed down version was passed with all of the major parties voting for the package and only the Welfare Party voting against. The main elements were removal of language praising the 1980 coup from the Constitution, lowering the voting age and age at which people can join parties to 18 from 21 and allowing greater political participation by trade unions and civil associations. [1(a)]
6.63 The use of languages other than Turkish in political campaigns is forbidden by law. Additionally, a general prohibition exists against parties that claim that there are minorities based "on national, religious, confessional, racial or language differences". Article 81 of the 1983 Political Parties Law (No. 2820) states that political parties: (a) cannot put forward that minorities based on national, religious, confessional, racial or language differences exist in Turkey, (b) cannot advocate the goal of destroying national unity or be engaged in activities to this end by means of protecting, developing, or disseminating language or cultures other than the Turkish language and culture and thus create minorities in Turkey, and (c) cannot use a language other than Turkish. Party names which contain words such s communist, anarchist, fascist or the name of a religion, region or ethnic group are, under Article 96 of Law No. 2820, forbidden. Parties which violate this law come into conflict with the authorities and are proscribed by them. The Turkish Communist Party was compelled to change its name for that reason. Members of the armed forces and public servants are not allowed to join political parties. [2(a)][9(b)]
6.64 The Kurdish People's Labour Party (HEP) and the Democratic Mass Party (DKP) fell victim to the law forbidding the use of any language other than Turkish in election campaigns. The indictment against the DKP illustrates the position of the government. The prosecutor did not argue that Kurds or other minorities do not exist, and in fact stated that such groups enrich society as a whole. However, the activities must be kept at the level of the individual and not demand group rights. Some parliamentary candidates have been prosecuted and convicted for using Kurdish at election rallies. [9(b)]
6.65 Another party which was banned for contravening the secular nature of the Turkish Republic was the Welfare Party (Refah), although the issue in this case was religion. In February 1998 the Constitutional Court's decision on the case was published, in which the Welfare Party was adjudged to be using democracy to establish a state based on Shari'a following statements made by its leaders in speeches. In a judgement delivered on 31 July 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the dissolution of the Welfare Party did not violate the principle of freedom of association under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court considered that the dissolution of the party "could reasonably be considered to meet a pressing social need for the protection of democratic society". 
6.66 Following the disbanding of the Welfare Party most of its parliamentary deputies joined the Virtue Party (Fazilet). Although it initially steered a more cautious course than the Welfare Party, it appeared to diverge from this course when one of its female deputies entered the Turkish Parliament wearing a headscarf, a public show which even some Virtue Party deputies saw as an unnecessarily confrontational move. In June 1999 the chief prosecutor sent an application to the Constitutional Court claiming not only that the Virtue Party was a centre of anti-secular activities, but that it was also a continuation of the Welfare Party, contrary to provisions of the Constitution which forbids permanently closed parties to reopen under another name. In June 2001 the Court reached a decision, and banned Virtue for undermining Turkey's secular order. In a more limited sanction than was demanded by the public prosecutor, the judges voted to expel only two Virtue deputies. Most of the 100 remaining Virtue deputies joined two successor parties which were formed - the Felicity Party (Saadet) and the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma). The latter (AKP) may be the more reformist of the two, but it is too early to be sure. [1(a)][30(h)][32(i)]
6.67 In March 2002, the reform package amended Article 101 of the Political Parties Law, in line with the amendment made to Article 68 of the Constitution. Under the new law, the Constitutional Court may decide to deprive a political party of financial assistance, rather than dissolving it. While leaving the grounds for sanctioning political parties unchanged, it makes it more difficult to close down a political party. "
01.09.2002 - Source: Amnesty International
Amnesty International: Amendments to the Law on Association introduced ("Briefing on present state of human rights development during the pre-accession process") [#10652], [ID 13442]
"The EU has asked for legal and constitutional guarantees for the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and for encouraging the development of civil society. The constitutional amendment introduced new restrictions and retained old ones. In practice, the pressure on human rights defenders has increased.
Law No. 4771 introduced amendments to the Law on Associations, which are intended to facilitate the activities of non-governmental organizations. Amnesty International is concerned that the amendments fail to ensure full freedom of association. The amended Law on Associations still contains numerous provisions that have been used to seriously impede the activities of associations. Amnesty International is especially concerned about the repeated arrests and prosecutions of human rights defenders for their peaceful activities, the authorities' frequent refusal to grant permission for their activities and the closure of branches of domestic human rights organizations."
10.05.2002 - Source: Amnesty International
Amnesty International - Urgent Action: ("Turkey - UA 141/02") [#6886], [ID 13444]
04.03.2002 - Source: US Department of State
US State Department: Freedom of Assembly and Association ("Annual report 2001") [#5813], [ID 13445]
"The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly; however, the Government often restricted this right in practice. Significant prior notification to the authorities is required for a gathering, and the authorities may restrict meetings to designated sites. The authorities may deny permission to assemble if they believe that a gathering is likely to disrupt public order. In October a constitutional amendment expanded the rights of free assembly and association by placing the emphasis on citizens' rights and reducing the number of restrictions on their activities.
Authorities prevented some demonstrations. For example, some provincial governors, including the governor in Ankara, issued temporary blanket bans on street demonstrations following violent protests in April of the economic crisis. The Ankara governor also denied permission to several groups for a demonstration in October against U.S. actions in Afghanistan. On several occasions in October, the police prevented peace marches in Istanbul.
The police beat, abused, detained and harassed some demonstrators. For example, in February large unsanctioned demonstrations were held in the southeast following the disappearance of two HADEP officials (see Section 1.b). The demonstrations mainly were peaceful; however, police forcibly disrupted the demonstrations, injured several persons, and detained 33 others; it is not known if they were formally charged.
For the second year in a row, the March 21 Kurdish Nevruz ("New Year") celebrations were marked by calm and respectful behavior among most participants and security forces. Celebrations were held in major cities, including one in Diyarbakir with at least 100,000 participants. However, in Istanbul participants and police clashed during such celebrations, and there were some detentions.
Security forces in Diyarbakir prevented demonstrators from holding rallies to celebrate the May 1 holiday. The police dispersed the demonstrators peacefully, but detained some of them after they chanted slogans. Governors in Mardin, Sanliurfa, Tunceli and Elazig also denied permission for May 1 rallies.
Prior to World Peace Day on September 1, Minister of Interior Rusta Yucelen instructed all provincial governors and the governor of the state of emergency region to facilitate Peace Day activities. However, Ankara's governor did not accept a HADEP petition for a rally in an Ankara convention hall on September 1, citing problems with moving out military equipment leftover from August 30 "Victory Day" celebrations. The refusal came on August 29, as HADEP members were gathering in Diyarbakir to board buses for Ankara. Police dispersed the several thousand persons waiting in Diyarbakir and briefly detained dozens of them. In September Istanbul police raided a HADEP office and a youth fleeing the police fell off the roof of the building and died (see Section 1.a.). Police also detained demonstrators in Tatvan, Kars, and Batman. A week later, during protests in Tunceli, Istanbul, and Van against police suppression of World Peace Day events, police detained HADEP officials and members, and allegedly drove an armored vehicle into a crowd in Van, injuring 1 person.
In August the new chief of police in Ankara issued a circular reorganizing the 1,500-member antiriot police squad and ordering them not to use truncheons under any circumstances; the circular had a positive affect in practice.
Police have detained and, on occasion, mistreated members of groups that protested prison conditions. In March an Istanbul criminal court released 67 members of the HRA who had been detained for attempting to hold an illegal demonstration in support of prisoners on a hunger strike (see Section 1.c).
In March Oktay Konyar, an environmental activist who has led several peaceful, illegal demonstrations to protest a gold mine in the northern Aegean region of the country was convicted under the Demonstrations Law and given a sentence of 18 months in prison. His appeal of the decision was pending at year's end.
In February a court acquitted some police officers of the charge of staging an illegal demonstration for participating in riots in Izmir in December 2000 after terrorist attacks killed two antiriot police officers; the court held that they had not intended to commit a crime. In December a representative of TNP stated that following December 2000 demonstrations, a total of 1,827 police were investigated, of whom 1,500 had received administrative penalties. Several court cases continued at year's end.
Dr. Alp Ayan, a psychiatrist with the HRF Izmir Treatment and Rehabilitation Center; Gunseli Kaya, who also works at the Center; and 66 others face charges of "holding an unauthorized demonstration" for participating in the funeral procession in October 1999 of one of the prisoners killed in the September 1999 Ulucanlar incident. Their trial began in January 2000 and was ongoing at year's end.
The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, there are some restrictions on this right. Associations and foundations must submit their charters for government approval, which is a lengthy and cumbersome process. The Government has closed some opposition political parties alleging that they were centers for illegal activity (see Section 2.c. and 3).
In an October amendment to the Constitution, the Parliament removed the ban on challenging the constitutionality of the highly restrictive "Law on Associations"; no court cases had been brought under the law by year's end. In June Prime Minister Ecevit called on civil servants to treat civil society and NGO's with tolerance rather than restrictions and prohibitions, stressing the need to comply with EU standards."
17.09.2001 - Source: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
International Helsinki Federation: NGO activities affected by the Turkish law on associations ("Democratic institutions: electoral processes") [#3951], [ID 13446]
"In Turkey, NGOs face legal obstacles to their activities, and although there is an active civil society, any organization that incurs official disapproval remained subject to a storm of litigation in 2000. The law on associations is cumbersome and restrictive and affects NGO activities. The law, for example,
includes heavy restrictions on membership and requirements to submit all publications and public meetings for approval by the local governor. Furthermore, associations are required to pay the fees and traveling expenses for an unspecified number of government agents to attend their meetings and
record proceedings on paper, audio or videotape. Local governors frequently exercise their considerable discretion to stop meetings, suppress publications and posters, and close down associations. Criticizing the authorities or questioning the state's view of society is often viewed as a form of disloyalty bordering on treason. Organizations viewed as disloyal are frequently harassed,
raided or closed down, and their members risk prosecution or worse. Members of the Turkish Human Rights Association's and the Human Rights Foundation have been recent targets, and have been detained, tortured, imprisoned and subjected to death threats."