|Turkey committed systematic rights abuses during protests: Amnesty||
Turkish authorities committed widespread and systematic rights abuses in their crackdown on popular demonstrations in June, beating, abusing and harassing protesters, and using unnecessary force, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
In a 72-page report, "Brutal denial of the right to peaceful assembly in Turkey", the rights group said police fired plastic bullets directly at protesters' heads and tear gas canisters were fired into residential buildings and medical facilities, Reuters reported.
Two women told Amnesty how they were hit and groped by police after being detained in Ankara. When they complained, police either refused to record the complaint or brought the character of the accuser into question, the report said.
Four protesters and a police officer died and more than an estimated 8,000 people were injured in the summer unrest which erupted when police used tear gas and water cannon to try to clear peaceful protesters from an Istanbul park.
"Widespread and systematic abusive force was used by law enforcement officials in violation of international human rights standards," Amnesty said in a news release.
There was no immediate government response to the report, but Turkish officials have defended the police response and said abuses will be investigated. A senior justice ministry official contacted by Reuters and the Turkish National Police in Ankara both declined to comment.
Amnesty called on governments and suppliers to impose an immediate ban on exports or transfers of riot control equipment to Turkey, and keep the ban in place until authorities allow an impartial investigation into the allegations.
"The levels of violence used by police ... clearly show what happens when poorly trained, poorly supervised police officers are instructed to use force - and encouraged to use it unsparingly - safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely ever to be identified or prosecuted for their abuses," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's Turkey expert.
"Their tactics of choice have been force, threats, insults and prosecution," he said.
What started as a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's central Gezi Park from re-development evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish police's crackdown was often heavy-handed. Six people were killed and more than 8,000 injured during the protests, according to the Turkish doctors' union.
Amnesty -- detailing the use of live ammunition, tear gas, water cannon, plastic bullets and beatings -- said the deaths of at least three protesters were linked to the "abusive use of force by police."
Erdogan branded the protesters as "riff-raff" and coup plotters bent on wrecking the country's political and economic stability.
Erdogan this week announced a set of reforms designed to strengthen democracy and protect minority groups.
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