A video from a recent protest in the southern province of Gaziantep shows a police chief urging and even using force against a police officer, who is unwilling to use pepper spray against the protesters, to pepper spray the demonstrators.
The video which went viral on the social media on Thursday is from a protest of a group of shopkeepers in the province who wanted to march towards the Gaziantep Governor’s Office to protest the construction of a new industrial site. Police used pepper spray against the protesters and detained a shopkeeper during the protest. In the video, a police chief hits a police officer in the neck and tells him “to spray” in an angry manner for several times after seeing that his colleague is not willing to use pepper gas against the protesters.
Sharing the video, many social media users voiced concerns over a security bill the government is set to pass in Parliament, which gives police broader authority to use their weapons. The package, which is set to be debated in Parliament next week, expands police officers’ authority in response to protesters who throw Molotov cocktails, authorizing them to fire their weapons at protestors who use them against the police.
A recent report released by the Tear Gas Must be Banned Initiative (Biber Gazı Yasaklansın İnsiyatifi) said the use of tear gas has taken eight lives and injured more than 450 people last year.
According to the annual report, the Turkish police fired tear gas on a total of 224 days in 2014. It claims eight people were killed and at least 453 people were wounded in Turkey in relation to excessive tear gas use that year.
However, in a press statement on Monday, the National Police Department said the claims don’t reflect the truth. It admitted that there was only one citizen who may have died from an injury sustained after being hit with a canister used to deploy tear gas, but added that the judicial process is still ongoing on the issue.