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Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for human rights
© UN Photo

The High Commissioner for Human Rights urges the Turkish Government and the civil society to adopt urgent measures to decrease tensions in the Country

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navy Pillay, has favourably welcomed the Turkish Government’s decision to hold further action on the Gezi Park development in Istanbul until there is a court decision, and then to submit the issue to a local referendum.

The High Commissioner observed that the initial demonstrations organised to protect Gezi Park transformed into a wide anti-government protest during which thousands of people were wounded because of the use of tear gas and at least four people died in circumstances still to clarify.

Defining the actual situation of Turkey highly combustible, Navy Pillay exhorted the authorities of Ankara to recognise how the heavy-handed response to the local protests triggered an expansion of the protests to include other aspects of governance, including those relating to fundamental human rights, such as freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion and expression.

Remembering her deep concern about allegations of excessive use of force by police against peaceful protesters, Navi Pillay underlined that the aim in times of social unrest should be to minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life.

Pillay concluded that addressing the current situation in Turkey through a human rights framework “could actually turn these major challenges into opportunities".