Turkish watchmen batter celebrating football fans, fire guns into air

Turkish watchmen, a parallel police force on duty at nighttime, have battered football fans celebrating their league win in Istanbul, as they were seen firing their guns into the air. Violence at the hands of watchmen has become frequent and the latest incidents added to the mounting concerns on human rights abuses.

Duvar English 

A number of Turkish football fans celebrating their league win in Istanbul were battered by watchmen, with footage showing the force firing their guns into the air unnecessarily. 

Beşiktaş seized the Turkish Süper Lig title for the 16th time on May 15 with a 2-1 win away to Göztepe. 

The usual wild celebrations of champions in Turkey's largest city were muted, with the country under lockdown due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases. Crowds celebrated on the streets in some districts despite the ban. 

While police warned football fans to disperse in numerous areas, the celebrations turned violent in Istanbul's Eyüpsultan district. Several watchmen and police officers fired their guns into the air, prompting outrage on social media. 

Watchmen, "bekçi" in Turkish, is a nighttime security force that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) reinstated after an eight-year break in 2016.

While their main duty is to support the police in maintaining public safety, there are concerns that the watchmen, who receive very little training for their job, may abuse their power since they were granted various authorities, including body search, asking for identity cards, carrying out detentions and carrying weapons - all amounting to a parallel police force.

Also on May 15, a group of watchmen was seen beating up two Beşiktaş fans in Istanbul's Beşiktaş district despite people around telling them to stop.