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US warns citizens against possible police measures at CHP rally in İstanbul

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The US Embassy in Turkey has warned its citizens about a rally organized by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) party to take place in İstanbul on May 21, saying there’s a “strong possibility” that police will use measures to control crowds at the rally.

The alert, published on the embassy website on Thursday, said the Turkish police had used measures including water cannons, tear gas and non-lethal projectiles to control crowds at protests in the past and that there was a strong possibility similar measures would be employed at the main opposition rally in the Maltepe district of İstanbul scheduled for Saturday evening.

“Avoid demonstrations and protests as they can be unpredictable and at times become violent,” the embassy said, also advising US citizens in İstanbul to avoid crowds, keep a low profile, avoid areas around protests and demonstrations, be aware of their surroundings and monitor local media for updates.

The right to freedom of assembly is one of the most violated rights in Turkey, with the police frequently breaking up demonstrations organized by women’s rights activists, LGBTIQ+ persons and environmentalists, among others.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have received widespread criticism for the excessive force used by Turkish police during interventions in meetings and demonstrations.

According to a report recently drafted by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a CHP lawmaker, prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of a parliamentary committee on human rights, Turkish police intervened in at least 45 demonstrations, public press statements and gatherings in April, detaining at least 288 and arresting four among those who attended the events.

At least 136 people were subjected to physical violence by the police in the meetings and demonstrations held last month, the report further showed.

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