Turk protesters continue to suffer from tear gas use

In a report released last week, the Turkish Medical Association, based in Ankara, the capital, said it had questioned more than 11,000 protesters nationwide who were exposed to tear gas for up to eight hours a day over multiple days during the protests, which convulsed Turkey for weeks in June. It said 39 percent complained about continuing effects from the exposure, with 14 percent saying they suffered skin irritations and 10 percent reporting dizziness and balance problems. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/world/europe/turkish-protesters-are-still-said-to-be-ailing-from-tear-gas.html?ref=world  The government has strongly criticized the medical association, saying it is biased because its members — doctors, nurses and medical students — treated the wounded. During the protests, riot police officers detained dozens of doctors and other medical workers on charges of violating the public order.
The large protests grew out of more modest demonstrations in late May over the government’s plans to raze Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a shopping mall, and left five people dead and thousands injured. The riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons liberally, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was widely criticized for the harshness of the crackdown.
“The level and type of force used by Turkish authorities against peaceful protesters during the Gezi Park demonstrations, as well as the targeting of doctors who courageously treated them, was unnecessary and inexcusable,” Dr. Vincent Iacopino, the senior medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights and the report’s co-author, said in a statement. “The use of all tear gas in Turkey must be banned, and government authorities must ensure these rampant abuses are never repeated.”
The report said 11 lost their eyes after tear-gas canisters were fired directly at their faces.
The protests, which spread to more than 60 cities, moved beyond civil unrest to become an unprecedented outcry against the more than 10-year leadership of Mr. Erdogan and his pro-Islamic government, which demonstrators said had adopted authoritarian tactics.
Turkish security forces reportedly used 130,000 cartridges of tear gas in just 20 days following the outbreak of the protests, nearly draining the country’s entire yearly supply. Some news reports said the army’s stocks were used as replenishment.

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