External resources relating to Turkey

Climate change, increased global migration, and expanding border enforcement are three linked phenomena guaranteed to come to an explosive head in this century.

With the continuation of the construction of the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Tigris River in December 2014, the dam construction site has been militarized intensely.

This briefing updates the July 2016 report ‘Border Wars: the arms dealers profiting from Europe’s refugee tragedy’ . It shows that the European policy response to the refugee tragedy continues to provide a booming border security market for Europe’s arms and security firms, some of whom are involved in selling arms to the Middle East and North Africa and all of whom encourage European policies focused on keeping refugees out. It’s a win-win for the security corporations, but the cost is a deadly toll for migrants forced into ever more dangerous routes as they flee wars, conflict and oppression.

Turkey's Interior Ministry will oversee all future appoints and promotions of the country's internal security force instead of the military, Interior Minister Efkan Ala announced on Friday...

The refugee crisis facing Europe has caused consternation in the corridors of power, and heated debate on Europe’s streets. It has exposed fundamental faultlines in the whole European project, as governments fail to agree on even limited sharing of refugees and instead blame each other. Far-right parties have surged in popularity exploiting austerity-impacted communities in putting the blame for economic recession on a convenient scapegoat as opposed to the powerful banking sector. This has been most potently seen in the UK, where leaders of the ‘Leave EU’ campaign unscrupulously amplified fears of mass migration to successfully mobilise support for Brexit.   Refugees fleeing terrible violence and hardship have been caught in the crossfire; forced to take ever more dangerous routes to get to Europe and facing racist attacks in host nations when they finally arrive.

However there is one group of interests that have only benefited from the refugee crisis, and in particular from the European Union’s investment in ‘securing’ its borders. They are the military and security companies that provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements.

This report turns a spotlight on those border security profiteers, examining who they are and the services they provide, how they both influence and benefit from European policies and what funding they receive from taxpayers. The report shows that far from being passive beneficiaries of EU largesse, these corporations are actively encouraging a growing securitisation of Europe’s borders, with some willing to provide ever more draconian technologies to do this.

As a part of measures to increase security on its border with Syria, Turkey begins building smart military towers that can warn and fire automatically.

King Abdullah II of Jordan is meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, for working talks that the Jordanian Embassy describes as covering "the strategic partnership" between the two countries. In addition to discussing the flood of Syrian refugees into Jordan — there are now 750,000 of them — the Embassy also says that the two will "tackle global efforts to combat terrorism and extremism across the Middle East, Africa, and the world." The White House mentions the talks in the president's daily schedule, noting the two will discuss "efforts to counter ISIL (and) resolve the Syrian conflict," using the US government's favorite acronym for the Islamic State group.

But that's a very reductive description of what the monarch and the president are likely to talk about. There's a major war going on across the Hashemite Kingdom's northern and eastern border, and much about Jordan's military role in that war won't likely be the subject of press releases. But the border is undoubtedly somewhere buried in the briefing books. The Obama administration is spending close to a half a billion dollars to build a sophisticated electronic fence along Jordan's northern and eastern borders, a wall which US strategic planners hope will stem the flow of refugees and also wall off the increasingly important American base from the disintegration of Syria and Iraq.

The use of riot control agents (RCAs) as a method of warfare is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention, however, permits the employment of such chemicals for law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes, provided they are used in “types and quantities” consistent with such purposes.

Whilst CWC States Parties are prohibited from developing RCA munitions for use in armed conflict, they may manufacture, acquire and utilise delivery systems to disseminate appropriate “types and quantities” of RCAs for law enforcement. However, there is continuing ambiguity as to the nature and specifications of those means of delivery that are prohibited under the Convention. This ambiguity has potentially dangerous consequences, allowing divergent interpretations, policy and practice amongst States Parties to emerge.

Of particular concern – given the current research and development of unmanned systems - are the implications for the regulation of “remote control” RCA means of delivery. These are dissemination mechanisms incorporating automatic or semi-automatic systems where the operator is directing operation of the platform and/or RCA delivery device at a distance from the target. Certain “remote control” devices incorporate target activated mechanisms triggering automatic RCA dispersal, without realtime operational control, whilst others employ a “man in the loop” system, requiring human authorisation before the RCA is released.

This report highlights the ongoing development, testing, production and promotion by a range of State and commercial entities of a wide variety of “remote control” RCA means of delivery including: indoor fixed installation RCA dispersion devices; external area clearing or area denial devices; automatic grenade launchers; multiple munition launchers; delivery mechanisms on unmanned ground vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The domestic security bill prepared by Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has triggered fist-fights in parliament and stirred a popular debate in the country. After a five day delay due to the fights, the debate over the legal package finally started at the General Assembly late Feb. 20.
The AKP government is currently pushing the bill, which it has renamed as the "Legal Package To Protect Freedoms," after postponing parliamentary debate on the matter twice. The government says the police need more powers to preserve public order and the safety of citizens, particularly on the eve of elections scheduled for June. They claim that more peaceful protests turn violent with the increasing use of Molotov cocktails and are also concerned about the recent spread of bonzai, a synthetic drug.

The Turkish government’s proposed expansion of police powers to search and detain and for the use of firearms would undermine human rights protections. A number of the proposals in a draft security bill would circumvent the role of prosecutors and judiciary in ways that directly undercut safeguards against the arbitrary abuse of power.

When you enter any gendarmerie post, Turkey’s paramilitary rural police force in 81 provinces and 957 towns, the first slogan on the wall is always Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s words: “The Turkish gendarmerie is an army of law.” The gendarmerie, with its 175-year history, has a current strength of about 190,000 (31 generals; 28,000 officers and noncommissioned officers; 40,000 professional specialist sergeants; 3,500 civilian workers/clerks and 117,000 conscripts). It is responsible for 80% of Turkey’s territory. With its commando brigades, air elements, special forces battalions and van-based corps, which is Turkey’s key unit for dealing with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Gendarmerie Command is a fully-fledged military machine.

But Ataturk’s words in every gendarmerie post may be removed in November, after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the Gendarmerie Command would be detached from the Chief of Staff of the Turkish armed forces and attached to the Ministry of Interior...

On 30 May 2013, police cleared Gezi Park in central Istanbul of a small group of protestors opposed to its destruction. The denial of their right to protest and the violence used by the police touched a nerve and a wave of anti-government demonstrations swept across Turkey. The authorities’ reaction was brutal and unequivocal. Over the next few months, police repeatedly used unnecessary and abusive force to prevent and disperse peaceful demonstrations. This report by Amnesty International documents the human rights violations that have accompanied the crushing crackdown on the Gezi Park protest movement.

Turkish authorities committed human rights violations on a massive scale in the government’s attempts to crush the Gezi Park protests this summer said Amnesty International.

In a report published today the organization details the worst excesses of police violence, during the protests, the failure to bring these abuses to justice and the subsequent prosecution and harassment of those that took part...

Further militarization of the Ilisu Dam construction site has exacerbated the tension around the highly controversial dam project. In a press release, the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive warns about a potential escalation of the situation including human rights violations and call upon the civil society and policy maker worldwide to protest against the decision of Turkish State Water Works (DSI) to continue with this destructive project.