BASW has endorsed a statement by the Turkish Association of Social Workers (TASW) in which the Ankara-based organisation emphasises the right of people in Istanbul to protest peacefully against the Government. The statement also makes it clear that social workers will be on the streets offering support to anyone affected by repressive tactics used against protestors.
The TASW statement condemned what it described as “police brutality” and “a clear violation of human rights”, following repeated incidents in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Protestors have gathered at the meeting point since 26 May in opposition to plans to develop Gezi Park, one of the few green spaces in the city, as well as what many perceive to be heavy-handed Government tactics.
Bridget Robb, BASW’s Chief Executive, said: “BASW would like to express our solidarity with colleagues in the Turkish Association of Social Workers, some of whom we were privileged to meet when we stayed in Istanbul for the IFSW Europe Delegates Meeting and ENSACT conference in April. We support them in their stance and in their work at this difficult time.”
The TASW statement:
The right to participate in the decision-making process relating to metropolitan areas, notably the project in Taksim Square, was not taken into account by the İstanbul Greater Municipality. Anti-democratic strategies have become dominant.
There has been no room to listen and understand the views of the local people of İstanbul. In turn, and in order to make their voices heard, people decided to use their constitutional/democratic rights by organising democratic, peaceful gatherings.
As social workers, we criticise all illegal practices, including police brutality towards people protesting at the [planned] demolition of the last green area [of central Istanbul], called ‘Gezi Park’, and consider this a clear violation of human rights.
As practitioners of the social work profession, a human rights profession, we support the efforts of our citizens to protect the environment. Based on our professional knowledge and ethical principles we support people who advocate for their environmental rights.
We would like to make it clear that social workers are ready to provide psycho-social support to citizens who are involved in the protests. A group of social workers from the İstanbul Branch of TASW will be with them in Taksim Square during the protests.
We state our concern about violence becoming a dominant element in this process.
Local authorities should provide health services to people who are involved in the protests.
NOTE: The original statement, as translated into English, has been slightly edited for grammatical sense, though without altering the substance or meaning of any of its content.