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Letter to Science Decries Injuries to Turkish Protestors
Some 25 researchers, citing Turkish Medical Association statistics regarding injuries to protestors in that country, today urged the Turkish government to "obey international law in the treatment of protestors and those providing medical treatment to them."
In a letter to the editors of Science, a group of authors including Emrah Altindis, a research fellow in microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School, and Caghan Kizil, a post-doctoral researcher at Germany's Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, wrote that 8,121 people were hospitalized as a result of police violence between 31 May and 26 June this year. That figure included "5 deaths, 61 life-threatening injuries, 104 head traumas, and 11 ophthalmic injuries, one of which led to loss of an eye due to shots of tear gas canisters from short range," the researchers wrote.
The authors described Turkish police use of tear gas as "excessive," including the use of 130,000 tear-gas cartridges in 20 days, and a plan to purchase 100,000 new cartridges. Moreover, they wrote, "Doctors and nurses treating patients affected by tear gas and other police brutality, as well as the Istanbul Medical Chamber General Secretary, have been apprehended by police."
The authors said that such tactics are "strictly limited by international agreements, such as the Geneva Protocol, to which Turkey is a signatory."
According to a report in The Lancet that was cited by the Science authors, "Recent events in Turkey have alarmed the international community." In another Lancet account, reporter Patrick Adams wrote that Turkish riot police, governed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), "attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in Istanbul's Taksim Square as they protested against the government's plans to replace a park with a shopping mall." That early-summer episode then triggered outrage and additional protests, prompting police crackdowns, he wrote.
The Science authors said that more than 4,000 academicians worldwide have signed a petition (about 2,200 in English, and 1,800 in Turkish) to protest police brutality against protestors in Turkey.
The letter was made freely available via the Science magazine site.
18 July 2013