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43 people killed, 240 maltreated, tortured in Turkey in December 2020: report

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Cases of human rights violations in Turkey in December included 43 deaths and 240 incidents of torture and maltreatment, with 143 of them taking place in prisons, a report drafted by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), revealed on Friday.

The report by Tanrıkulu, a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of a parliamentary committee on human rights, said 23 women, two refugees and an inmate were among those whose right to life was violated last month.

Regarding violations of freedom of speech, the MP’s monthly report showed that investigations were launched into two members of the press, while eight journalists were detained and nine more were either given prison sentences or fines.

Turkish authorities in December blocked access to a total of 1,342 URLs, which included links to critical media outlets such as the T24, Diken and Gazete Duvar news websites and the Cumhuriyet daily website.

Thirteen people were detained, two were arrested and five were either given prison sentences or levied fines due to expressing their views critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The authorities launched investigations into 35 social media users, detained 13 and arrested one in December, while the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Dec. 22 that social media posts mentioning strip-searches in Turkey’s prisons were also being investigated.

Allegations of strip-search in Turkish prisons and detention centers were first brought to public attention by Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist and lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), over a report that 30 female students who were detained in Uşak on alleged terror links were strip-searched before admission to a detention facility in late August.

Following the move, which prompted scores of women as well as men to share on social media their experiences of strip-searches, several senior members of the AKP government denied the practice and branded Gergerlioğlu a “terrorist.”

The report further revealed that hundreds of political party, municipality and nongovernmental organization chairs and members, the majority of them from the pro-Kurdish HDP, were detained, and at least 13 were arrested last month. Five of them received prison sentences in December, while three others were released by a court.

Turkish police intervened in at least 18 demonstrations, public press statements and assemblies last month, detaining at least 85 people and arresting two among those who attended the events. At least three similar events were banned by provincial and district governors’ offices, and a number of people were reportedly sentenced to pay administrative fines for attending protests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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