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Activists hit out as anti-war slogans banned in Istanbul

ACTIVISTS and human-rights lawyers in Istanbul today demanded that a ban on the slogan “no to war” and demonstrations against military operations in Syria be overturned.

The city governor’s office came under fire after it issued a decree against all actions and activities criticising Turkey’s offensive in Idlib province, where it is holed up with its jihadist allies.

The ban prohibits all rallies, demonstrations and the distribution of anti-war literature “because they can cause public indignation,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

But the prevention of peaceful gatherings was branded “unacceptable” and a breach of international conventions by Gulseren Yoleri, chairwoman of the Human Rights Association’s Istanbul branch.

She said: “To praise peace, to demand peace is a responsibility. Therefore banning statements defending peace and life and human rights is unacceptable. 

“Humans-rights defenders will always advocate peace. For this reason, we think that the ban must be removed as soon as possible."

Turkey has moved to silence all opposition to its illegal invasions and occupations of northern Syria.

This morning Umar Karatepe, head of communications for the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (Disk),  was detained over social media posts opposing Turkey’s actions in Idlib.

He was freed on a judicial order after being interrogated about the content of his tweets. 

Mr Karatepe said that it was “the price to defend life and peace,” adding: “that price is not worse than death and war.”

Investigations are also under way into scores of opposition politicians, mostly from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for opposing the so-called Operation Peace Spring — Turkey’s war against Kurds in northern Syria.

HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar have demanded the recall of parliament and a debate to be held on the war in Syria so that the public are informed of developments.

They insisted that dialogue was the only solution, hitting out at the “cover up, censorship and blocking of social media platforms.”

Earlier this week the United Nations accused Turkey of potential war crimes during its operations in northern Syria. 

It warned that charges could be brought against Turkish military commanders for atrocities committed by the myriad of jihadist groups it supports, including the Free Syrian Army.

This included the brutal torture and execution of Kurdish-Syrian politician Hevrin Khalef whose body was found dumped at the side of the road in October last year.

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