Turkish police forces had proven themselves to have almost no limits when it comes to suppressing anti-government protests over the years. One major example that has come to be known globally is the Gezi Park protests, investigations regarding which are still going on. Although initially use of excessive force was denied by security headquarters, later on during investigations and inquiries more details were revealed proving the earlier denial statements wrong. One such development concerns the use of lethal weapons against peaceful protests in Turkey.
During the Gezi Park protests, a young protestor called Abdullah Koç had been wounded during the police’s intervention to protests. He was shot in the face with a rubber bullet on June 2nd, 2013, in Ankara. Upon the initial inquiry, department of riot police stated that there is no rubber bullets in their inventory, thus not possible that police shot anyone with it. The victim’s lawyer insisted that the prosecutor continue the investigation, which led to further questions such as whether FN303 had been used against peaceful protestors or not. The defense lawyers’ statement insists that only pressured water from water cannons –TOMAs- and tear gas has been used to disperse protests.
Recently the inquiries about his injury have revealed a disturbing detail. The Security Forces have admitted use of lethal weapon called FN303, which is banned in European countries. This weapon is less lethal than a standard assault rifle, yet is no tool for dispersing a street protest. The lawyer points out the report published by the National Criminal Bureau, which denies the use of rubber bullets but admits to use of FN303 launcher which operates with rubber bullets.
The details about the weapon are shocking; the container boxes have a warning that states “do not aim directly at head/face”. When a person gets hit with a bullet fired from this weapon, the bullet applies a level of pressure equivalent of 11kg of weight. Getting shot with a bullet of that would be a similar feeling of getting crashed in the head with a 11 kg sledgehammer. When one takes a look at the people who were killed, wounded, shot by the police during protests, it can be considered obvious that the instructions regarding the uses of these lethal weapons have not been followed.