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  • Human Rights Research Center

Reports of Turkish Authorities Abusing Earthquake Survivors

April 5, 2023

Photo: Two police officers watch removal of rubble from buildings that collapsed in the February 6 earthquakes, Hatay, Turkey, March 23, 2023. [Image credit: © 2023 Omer Urer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Cited article by Anthony Gale, Human Rights Watch

HRRC condemns the torture and ill-treatment of civilians by Turkish authorities. As the Turkish and Syrian people begin to rebuild following the devastating earthquake in February, it is essential they are supported and protected. The Turkish government must take measures to ensure law enforcement are following protocol and investigate the allegations of violence.

Article Summary

Over 50,000 people were killed in the earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February, with millions attempting to recover. Despite the outpouring of disaster relief, Turkish police responding to the affected areas have reportedly been abusing and torturing people suspected of looting. Law enforcement also have failed to intervene when violent assaults happen between individuals.

Turkish law states a zero tolerance policy towards torture, forbidding it and other ill-treatment under any circumstances. Despite this, research by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International found detailed cases of torture, arbitrary detention, threats, and other ill-treatment across the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake. In addition, many Syrians expressed fear of excessive force against them due to their ethnicity and beliefs. Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said, “Law enforcement officials are treating the state of emergency for the natural disaster as a license to torture, otherwise ill-treat and even kill with impunity.”


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