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A protester wears a gas mask during clashes with police near Taksim Square in Istanbul in June.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International said Turkish authorities committed human rights abuses "on a massive scale" while trying to quell antigovernment demonstrations this summer.

The unrest began in May as a protest against the redevelopment of Istanbul's Taksim Square and adjacent Gezi Park. Following a harsh crackdown by police, it snowballed into nationwide demonstrations that lasted for weeks.

In a report on the Gezi Park demonstrations published on October 2, Amnesty International said protesters were severely beaten, resulting in one death. The report also said live ammunition was used, killing one protester, and that police frequently fired plastic bullets directly at protesters’ heads and upper bodies.

The report said tear gas canisters were routinely fired directly at protesters, bystanders, and sometimes into residential buildings and medical facilities, and that some women protesters were sexually abused.
Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai speaks at a special event in New York in late September. (file photo)
BRUSSELS -- Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, American Edward Snowden, and Belarusian political prisoners Ales Byalyatski, Eduard Lobau, and Mikola Statkevich have all been short-listed for the 2013 Sakharov Prize.

The 50,000 euro ($65,000) prize is awarded every year by the European Parliament to honor defenders of human rights and freedom of expression.

ALSO READ: Belarusian Byalyatski Awarded First-Ever Havel Prize

Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai is widely regarded as the favorite when the prize is announced on 10 October.

She has been backed by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), and two center-right groups, the European People's Party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR).

Snowden, who fled the United States after disclosing classified electronic-surveillance activities, is supported by the Greens and the leftist GUE/NGL but remains a controversial choice for most members of the European Parliament.

Byalyatski, Lobau, and Statkevich enjoy strong Polish backing in the chamber and are nominated on behalf of all Belarusian political prisoners.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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