The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Turkish government on Thursday of torturing and shooting Syrian civilians trying to cross the Syrian-Turkey border, with reports of deaths. HRW urged Turkey to investigate these abuses and hold the border guards responsible for them accountable. The NGO reported that Turkish border guards have used excessive force and fired indiscriminately at asylum seekers and migrants trying to enter Turkey. Since the beginning of the year, Turkish border guards have shot and killed 12 Syrians, wounding 20 others, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
HRW also reported that on March 11, Turkish border guards “beat and tortured” a group of eight Syrians trying to enter Turkey illegally. A man and a boy died while in custody, and others were seriously injured. HRW denounced “systematic brutality” by Turkish border guards and noted that the Turkish government has failed to stop these abuses. Turkey is home to nearly 3.6 million Syrians who have fled the war that has raged in their country since 2011, but it keeps the border between the two countries closed.
The NGO called on the Turkish government to carry out full and credible investigations into allegations of abuse, provide access to justice and redress for victims, and ensure that effective measures are taken to prevent further abuse. He also called on the Turkish government to allow UN and international observers access to border areas to document any abuses. Human Rights Watch has documented abuses on the Syrian-Turkish border for years, including the use of gunfire to deter migrants from crossing the border.
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