Council outraged by police actions against water justice activists in Istanbul

The Council of Canadians issued this media release this morning:

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Ottawa / March 16, 2009 - The Council of Canadians is expressing shock and outrage this morning after Turkish police violently attacked a peaceful march by 300 water activists protesting the World Water Forum in Istanbul.

Reports indicate that Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons, fired rubber bullets, and arrested seventeen people, many of whom are now in hospital.

Anil Naidoo, Blue Planet Project organizer with the Council of Canadians, says, "I saw three young girls, no more than seventeen years of age being violently arrested and the leader of the Manzur river protection group was also arrested." Naidoo adds, "We are currently working on an intervention to demand their release and are going to question the head of the World Water Council at a press conference."

Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow will be arriving in Istanbul shortly. Barlow, who also serves as the senior advisor on water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, was appalled by the police actions.

"We know that the World Water Forum does not support the human right to water and thinks that water is a commodity to be bought and sold," says Barlow. "But we believed that the hundreds of water justice advocates in Turkey and from around the world would be free to peacefully protest and express a different vision for the future."

The World Water Forum starts today and concludes on March 22. Barlow, Naidoo, and Council of Canadians national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan are available for comment from the World Water Forum in Istanbul.