On 2nd of June 2013, the Psychiatric Association of Turkey distributed a press release about the oppressive measures taken against peaceful protesters in Istanbul. These oppressive measures led to hundreds of people being injured and potential deaths yet to be confirmed. According to this press release and supported by international media reports, the demonstrations initially begun to protest against the destruction of the Gezi Park in Taksim/Istanbul for the restructuring of the area by the construction of a large shopping mall as part of a redevelopment project solicited personally by Prime Minister Erdogan and his administration. The peaceful protests, which were initiated by a few hundred people, eventually led to a massive gathering of three hundred thousand demonstrators, and spread to the entire country in the following few days. Apparently, harsh police interventions to peaceful and mostly young urban demonstrators involved extensive use of tear gas and similar health damaging inhalants, physical violence, and use of pressured water from near distance causing vital threats to the victims.
As ESTSS Board, we have deep concerns about the scale of violence used in interventions on peaceful protesters who were merely exercising their constitutional right of assembly to make a call for universal values such as the preservation of environment and freedom of speech.
As professionals working in the field of psychotrauma we can predict, that the massive violence implemented against citizens will cause not only physical but also (and may be to a greater extend) psychological harm to those individuals who were subjected to the violence, as well as their families, and even more so: to the whole society. Here we recall the notion of societal trauma which has a tendency to transmit from generation to generation and hinders development of the society/country.
Hereby we urge the government to stop the violence used against peaceful protesters and to enter into a dialogue with his own people. This is critical not only to prevent further violation of human rights but also in order to preserve the mental health of the citizens and prevent subsequent social problems caused by the damage on a societal scope.
The official (translated and approved) press release by the Psychiatric Association of Turkey can be downloaded here:
Officially approved translation of the press release of the Psychiatric Association of Turkey
The ESTSS Board (June 5th 2013)