Turkey’s Constitutional Court has found rights violation in the case of a protester beaten by the police in the capital Ankara during Gezi Park protests in 2013.
The top court said in its ruling that the applicant's right to life as well as right to hold meetings and demonstration marches were violated as per the Article 17 and Article 34 of the Constitution.
Accordingly, the applicant named Eda Ayşegül Kılıç, a lawyer by profession, will be paid 37,500 Turkish ($6,120) in spiritual damages, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.
Kılıç applied to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office a day after participating in the protests that took place in Ankara's Kızılay neighborhood on June 2, 2013. She said that she was beaten by the police with sticks “in her back, waist, head and arms and therefore experienced a loss of consciousness.”
The prosecutor's office in a ruling on March 12, 2015 decided not to prosecute the case on the grounds that the police did not “exceed their right to use force.”
Kılıç appealed the prosecutor's decision to an Ankara court, which was similarly turned down. After exhausting all ordinary legal remedies, Kılıç took her case to the Constitutional Court on July 16, 2015.
In a ruling released on the Official Gazette on Feb. 25, the top court said: “The action that hurts a person's material and spiritual being the most is torture."
The court said police could use physical force only when “it is a must” and only when it is a “proportional force.” It said there were no indications that the applicant had undertaken a violent action during the protests, and therefore the existence of her injuries -- “especially on her head and face” -- could not be explained by a simple intervention of the police for the protest to be dispersed. “Therefore the physical force inflicted upon the applicant cannot be said to be proportional,” the court said.
“It is not possible to conclude that a physical force was inflicted upon the applicant to end a crime that she has committed or catch her [due to an arrest warrant],” the court said, also calling on the authorities to conduct an investigation to find those who caused the injuries and then punish them.
'The state needs to show patience, tolerance'
As for the applicant's right to to hold meetings and demonstration marches, the court said: “It is a necessity of a pluralistic democracy that the state shows patience and tolerance towards people's actions which do not constitute a danger for the public order and do not contain violence when they are using their right to hold peaceful meetings and demonstration marches.”
In 2013, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Turkey to protest the government. The protests initially started at Istanbul's central Taksim Square, sparked by outrage at the violent eviction of a sit-in at the Gezi Park.
Subsequently, supporting protests and strikes took place across the country, including Ankara, protesting a wide range of concerns at the core of which were issues of freedom of the press, of expression and assembly.