ISTANBUL, Turkey: More than 200 people were arrested in Istanbul on Saturday as Turkish police cracked down on protesters who defied a coronavirus lockdown to take part in a traditional May Day labor march.
Riot police and plainclothes officers scuffled with union leaders and other marchers in Taksim Square. The city governor’s office said they had “gathered illegally” and had ignored calls to disperse. Protesters were also arrested in Ankara and the western city of Izmir.
Journalists recorded the crackdown despite an Interior Ministry order on Friday banning the filming of security forces while they are on duty. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government said the ban was aimed at protecting officers’ privacy, and the circulation of images online led to “popular misjudgments about the security department.”
However, experts told Arab News the ban was unlawful and would threaten citizens’ rights by weakening police accountability and preventing evidence collection, especially in cases where police commit violence against demonstrators.
“There is no legal basis for such a circular. The constitution grants the right of privacy only to individuals. Public institutions and public officials have no such protection,” said Gokhan Ahi, a lawyer specializing in technology and IT law.
“This ban is baseless, because the acts of the police forces against demonstrators don’t involve their privacy. Otherwise, it would be unnecessary to put security cameras in police stations.
“Public officials cannot enjoy privacy for the acts they commit in public places. They should act legally when they are performing their duties. Recording such acts normally helps authorities identify unlawful behavior, and provides strong evidence and a de facto monitoring mechanism for judicial authorities, especially in cases of torture and mistreatment.
“The helmet numbers of the riot police were erased recently, while the authorities use an increased number of civilian police to intervene in social movements, which feeds unaccountability for mistreatment by police forces on duty,” he added.