Between May 28 and June 16, 2013, Turkish police used 150,000 gas canisters against peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders, including children and the elderly. 12,000 people have received medical care for exposure to dibenzoxazepine ("CR") gas, 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile ("CS") gas, Phenacyl Chloride (“CN”) and Oleoresin Capsicum (“pepper gas”) in the same period.
The ways in which these gases used - such as direct aiming or firing from very short distances - are contrary to the instructions of American companies who manufacture them. Their use ar riot control agents also violates U.S. law, Turkish law, and international human rights codes.
What's worse, tear gas canisters made by two US-based companies, Nonlethal Technologies, based in Homer City, Pennsylvania and Defense Technology, based in Casper, Wyoming, have been found littering the ground in Gezi Park.
As the three of members of Congress who have proposed legislation on tear gas and other 'crowd control' items used to violate the human rights of protesters for exercising their rights of free speech and freedom of assembly, we are urging you to take a stand in Congress about the use of US-made tear gas against the people of Turkey.
Facing Tear Gas
We strongly urge Rep. Keith Ellison [D-MN], Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT], and Rep. Raúl Grijalva [D-AZ3] to take immediate steps toward introducing legislation to ban or suspend the export of these harmful agents to Turkey.
Turkish police have used and continue to use these substances against peacefully assembled citizens who pose no threat to public order. They are used in massive quantities (allegedly, the pepper gas used in the first six days of the most recent protests equals the total amount of gas use in 14 European countries combined) and in an improper and gratuitously unsafe manner.
Turkish police regularly fire the metal gas canisters directly at protesters from a closerange rather than at the 45 degree angle and 120 yard distance required to prevent serious injuries from the impact. They are also fired from all directions, leaving protestors nowhere to run to end toxic gas exposure.
Turkish police have also used these agents in unsafe enclosed conditions such as vehicle, houses, and subway stations despite the fact that these chemicals are only safe in open environments. Innocent bystanders, even whole districts of cities are affected by the massive use.
Given Turkey's continued dangerous use of these chemicals against its own citizens, despite the international condemnation, we urge you to pass a law prohibiting or suspending their export to Turkey.
What's the next step?
You copy-paste our petition to Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT] directly.
Fax his office: (202) 224-3479
Call his offices from: (202) 224-4242 (Washington D.C.)
(802) 863-2525 and 1-800-642-3193 (Burlington, VT)
(802) 229-0569 (Montpelier, VT).
Go to facingteargas.org to learn more about the campaign to end the use of tear gas and related chemical weapons.