Turkish police seek to prevent being filmed at protests

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police have been instructed to prevent citizens from filming them while policing demonstrations, a prominent lawyers group has said, sparking criticism and fears the move could lead to increased human rights violations.

The Progressive Lawyers Association posted on its Twitter account a document purporting to be a security department circular. The document, dated April 27 and signed by national police chief Mehmet Aktas, argues that the filming of police officials amounts to a violation of their right to privacy and prevents them from carrying out their duties. It then instructs officers to prevent people from using their cellphones to record or film police during demonstrations, and calls on them to “take legal action” if needed

There was no official confirmation of the instruction to police, which was also reported by several media outlets.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said Friday that the move could lead to increased police brutality and amounted to “authoritarianism at its finest.”

“They will do whatever they want, bully as they please,” said CHP spokesman Faik Oztrak. “They will step on the people with their knees placed on their heads, but people will not be able to shoot this with their cellphones.”

He was referring to an image showing a Turkish police officer placing his knee on the back of a protester who was lying face down on the ground during an early May Day protest in the city of Izmir. The image was compared to those showing the arrest of George Floyd, whose death in the United States last year caused widespread protests and international condemnation.

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