Security personnel from the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria pounced on members of the Turkey Solidarity Network (TSN) in South Africa, who were protesting the Turkish government’s human rights abuses ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the mission, IOL news reported on Thursday.
“We were very peaceful, yet firmly picketing about Erdoğan’s dictatorial rule. Suddenly, security personnel emerged from the embassy and attacked us. I was kicked in the face, and I’m bleeding right now as you can see,” said Majesty Mnyandu, interim chairperson of TSN.
Pictures taken during the scuffle also showed that protesters were holding stones in their hands.
The South African police had done nothing to protect the demonstrators against Turkish security personnel’s attack, Mnyandu said. However, members of the TSN were determined to remain in place until Erdoğan saw their placards, he said.
“One would expect the police to protect citizens when they are under form of attack. We are being attacked here and the police are standing idle. What kind of policing is that? They should have protected us,” said Mnyandu.
Several TSN members were bleeding, while others were crying in pain.
In a statement released ahead of the protest on Thursday, the TSN said: “Turkey’s two year-long state of emergency and new anti-terror laws set a backdrop for violations of human rights … with academics, journalists, political activists and human rights defenders among those targeted.”
The civic group said more than 250 000 workers, including judges, teachers and government workers have lost their jobs and others have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation by Erdogan’s regime.
“Families are being separated where mothers and young children are jailed or left to fend for themselves,” said the TSN statement.
Officials from the Turkish Embassy were not readily available to comment.
President Erdoğan is visiting Johannesburg to attend the tenth summit of the BRICS bloc, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.