One think is sure! After the “coup d’état” in 2015, the Don Quixote imaginary Neo-Sultan of the New Ottoman Empire, Mr Erdogan seized all powers in his hand and made the army of the country his puppet.
People cannot protest peacefully in the country anymore. Even the LGBT gay pride was not authorized and people got arrested.
Historically, In 1858 the Ottoman Empire—the predecessor of the modern-day Republic of Turkey— adopted a new penal code, which no longer contained any explicit articles criminalizing homosexuality. The Ottoman Penal Code of 1858 was heavily influenced by the Napoleonic Code, as part of wider reforms during the Tanzimat period. LGBT people have had the right to seek asylum in Turkey under the Geneva Convention since 1951, but same-sex couples are not given the same legal protections available to heterosexual couples. Transgender people have been allowed to change their legal gender since 1988. Although discrimination protections regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression have been debated legally, they have not yet been legislated.
In response to the recent crackdown on the Istanbul Pride Parade, Freedom House issues the following statement:
“The continuing assault on LGBT+ people in Turkey was on full display with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the Istanbul Pride March,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “This latest crackdown is part of a larger effort to roll back LGBT+ and women’s rights in Turkey, which also includes the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention and the prosecution of Boğaziçi University students for holding rainbow flags. The government must stop the continuing assault on LGBT+ communities and guarantee fundamental rights protections of all people in Turkey.”
On June 26th, police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the annual pride parade in Istanbul. At least 20 people, including Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Bülent Kılıç, were detained by the authorities. Kılıç was violently arrested, with police breaking his camera and pressing on his neck. AFP denounced Kılıç’s treatment, while Kılıç himself has filed a complaint against the police. The Istanbul pride parade has been banned since 2014, though participants have consistently marched in defiance of that ban. Four days before this year’s march, police forcefully dispersed a pride-week picnic in the city, detaining at least one person.
The crackdown on the Turkish LGBT+ community has intensified since Boğaziçi University students began protesting the appointment of Melih Bulu, an ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as rector in January. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu later called student protesters “LGBT deviants,” after protesters disseminated a photograph that included Islamic and LGBT+ imagery. Twelve people who were detained in March after carrying a rainbow flag at a protest, meanwhile, faced their second judicial hearing earlier today.
In May, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) ranked Turkey the second-worst country in Europe for LGBT+ rights. On June 17th, Council of Europe (CoE) human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović called on the Turkish government to respect the rights of LGBT+ people to assemble, criticizing the banning of pride marches and noting a “visible rise in hateful rhetoric and the propagation of homophobic narratives” by Turkish politicians and officials.
Turkey is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2021 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2020.
Analyzing The facts
However, at the same time, during the parade protest much worse things happened in the back streets of Istanbul, Taksim Istiklal Street (where the walk is intended). This district is called Cihangir.
Police forces attacked people sitting in cafes in Cihangir. People they were sitting there, some of them were unmasked as an excuse given by the police to attack them. We understand this from their speeches in the videos. Nonetheless, the police forces obviously intercepted any person whose appearance seemed “marginal” given the potential to participate in this parade, and then, they found the excuse to attack them. And when the customers of the cafes objected, they were arrested by the police force. Here is a twitter link:
The police forces , at that moment, lost its temper and even took their phone from someone’s hand, then most likely they deleted the footage. The police has the right from now on to do so as on April 30, 2021, the Turkish General Directorate of Security issued a circular stating that “it was decided to prevent people who recorded the images or voices of the police during the protests and to take legal action against them”.
“Controversial Circular from the Police: Recording images is now prohibited”
“In the circular in question, it was argued that sharing the audio and video recordings of the police officers and civilians on social media “violates the privacy of private life”, while it was argued that receiving audio and video also prevented them from doing their duty.”
Already since the 15 July 2016 FETO coup attempt, Turkey has been governed mostly by the decrees of Tayyip Erdoğan and the circulars of such public institutions.
Here another video: https://twitter.com/tugbaaozerr/status/1408820117123780608
In this video, the young man walking to the side of the police bus says that he is a lawyer and that what they are doing is illegal, almost begging. But the female cop almost glues him to the vehicle. At the end of the video, a young woman protests and says there is abuse here. The police says there is not any abuse.
But beyond all that, there is something much more interesting in this short video. At the beginning of the video, it is seen that male and female policemen are waiting in line. And all of the female cops on line are not wearing headscarves. However, three of the three female police officers heading towards the bus and detained the young woman are wearing headscarves.
After the 2016 FETO coup attempt in Turkey, the recruitment of headscarved women into the army and police forces was enacted by the AKP government.
This was not legal in Turkey before in the kemalist period . And with the democratization approval period of accessing to the European Union, it became law to admit women without headscarves to the public institutions of Turkey.
Wearing a headscarf or not has no meaning for the West. But it does for Turkey. Since its establishment, it has applied a principle of secularism in that way. In other words, headscarved women, or men with fez or turban, or any religious symbol of any religion could not wear any official clothing in public until the last 5 years.
Why was this implemented? Turkey is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country. In the years it was founded, the literacy rate was around 12%. And it would not be wrong to say that the imams of mosques, which were in almost every neighborhood, were more involved in people’s lives and influenced the public. We know this from some imams who cooperated with the British during the War of Independence of Turkey, 1919-1923. And with the collapsing of the Ottoman sultanate, the loss of the caliphate and the fear of losing the power of some of the imams made them cooperate with those who invaded their country. And they did this not only on the basis of religion, but also on ethnic identity. The most important thing to do in this situation should have been to implement laws in order to prevent this. As stated in the second of the first three unalterable articles of the Turkish constitution, “The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state of law.”
For this reason, all kinds of religious symbols were removed from the public domain. Because if even one of them were allowed, it would have been against the principle of secularism, and the already overwhelming influence of the Sunni Muslim majority in the country would increase.
However, the Western world pointed this law against free expression and life, by presenting Atatürk as a dictator, anything that is contrary to the founding principles of Turkey, and in a sense, contrary to the Republic of Turkey founded by Atatürk. According to our information and as most West politicians having influence at that time stated, they supported Tayyip Erdogan from the very beginning, supposedly saying in their own minds, “Yes, Atatürk was a dictator, but he was not our dictator, we need a dictator in our own hands”. Even if the EU says they do not support him sometimes, we can say that they use this just as a rhetoric, as EU countries have never come into conflict with the government of Tayyip Erdogan because it will influence the trade negatively.
It is obvious what kind of result a country like Turkey has had with the so-called democratization pressure on Turkey’s founding laws, by putting aside its internal dynamics, history and culture. Just like what happened in Cihangir last week.
If we go back to the video, it is a complete FETO tactic, especially if these three women wearing headscarves were given the task of detaining the young woman and acting while having in mind that these images will become widespread. FETO, too, had done its best to stir up every internal dynamic in Turkey and to materialize this.
Tayyip Erdogan and his government are aware of the bad situation of the country economically and socially. And it is very clear that they are thinking of creating an environment where they can put more pressure and increase the discomfort in the country by showing some dynamics dividing the society to “secular and non-secular” .
Isn’t that strange that Tayyip Erdogan his relatives and supporters behave in the same way with the FETO line tactics are still being applied while they are stating that they are against FETO movement?
Here the 3rd video: https://twitter.com/t24comtr/status/1408849571414003716
“The citizen, who reacted to the sound bomb thrown by the police at the Pride Parade, saying “The child is sleeping”, was detained by the police.
And as the police chief instructions orders “Go upstairs and take him!” that citizen on the balcony has been taken into custody also.
Of course, this police violence was not limited to those who participated in the LTGB pride parade, the ones sitting in the coffee shops in the back streets of Istiklal road, journalists should not be forgotten. The press freedom reports regarding Turkey already are not heart-warming :
“Report: Turkey ranks second after China in the number of journalists imprisoned this year”https://tr.euronews.com/2020/12/15/rapor-turkiye-cin-den-sonra-bu-y-l-en-fazla-hapsedilen-gazeteci-say-s-nda-ikinci-s-rada“
The report states that as of December 1, 2020, 274 journalists were still held in prison in the world, while China (47), Turkey (37) and Egypt (27) were among the top three in this list.”
Bulent Kılıc, photojournalist for the French news agency AFP, who was detained with the harsh intervention of the police during the 19th Pride Parade in Taksim, Istanbul, was one of these journalists.
“The reporter who followed the Pride Parade was detained after being suffocated by his throat.”
Kılıc, who shared on his Twitter account, used the following statements:
“I was intended to be killed, I was intended to be left breathless. I will hold accountable for whoever did this to me, in the Constitutional Court, European Human Rights, whatever, whatever court in this world, it will be held accountable in court as long as I live. It will not be left for the Supreme Court.”
These are some of the photos in LTGB pride by Bulent Kılıç took before he was taken into custody
This is what happened in Turkey in just a day or even a few hours. It is obvious that the censorship applied in Turkey is one of the worst during nowadays and this kind of dictatorial pressure must end soon in the country.
Freedom House : Turkey: Authorities Violently Disperse Pride Event
Ishtiaq Hussain (15 February 2011). “The Tanzimat: Secular Reforms in the Ottoman Empire” (PDF). Faith Matters. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
Wikipedia: LGBT rights in Turkey
See report of Kaos GL: Turkey’s LGBT History: The 1990sArchived 24 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
6th İzmir Pride Parade: ‘We’ll Walk Up to Fear'”. bianet.org. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
6 thoughts on “The right of protest in Turkey”
Hi! I really liked your post. I would also like to express my thoughts. For me, an uneducated ignorant who sees Atatürk as a dictator has no importance as a president anyway. By the way, the FETÖ incident is also a dubious situation. Nobody in Turkey knew who Fetullah Gülen was. Then, Erdogan introduced this person to the Turkish people. In fact, Gülen had a newspaper called “Zaman”. There were always headlines praising Tayyip Erdoğan. Then, there was a disagreement with Gülen. I’m sure it’s a monetary thing. Later, they declared Fetullah Gülen a terrorist. This man had chains of markets, stationery and private courses in Turkey. In fact, Fatih University was Fetullah Gülen’s university. It was the AKP that brought this man into Turkey and allowed them to settle in this way. After July 15, many people were imprisoned. But, surprisingly, nothing happened to AKP. They supported FETO as well. They just said that they made a mistake. Of course, all those people who went to prison didn’t have a chance to say that they made a mistake as well. They were not as lucky as AKP. Of course, FETO was not innocent either. A community that teaches religion with force in its private courses. They are brainwashing teenagers. It’s actually a cult. Erdogan’s reason for supporting FETO was that Fetullah Gülen had power abroad, which was good for them, he had money, and he was a fanatical Islamist. In my opinion, religion should not have a place in the administration of the state. Everyone can believe what they want, dress the way they want, but when religion takes place in the state, they can experience the problems that Turkey is currently experiencing. Nowadays, women cannot wear revealing clothes comfortably. Most women experience violence from their husbands. When young girls are raped, the rapist throws her out the window. They say that she committed suicide, and thus the case get closed. People are not even seen as human because of their sexual orientation. Erdogan and his supporters do not even acknowledge their existence. It’s really sad. 😦
Hello Hilal. Thank you for your comment. Yes indeed, the AKP government historically has a lot of ties with the Feto movement. I believe that nowadays religion in the Eastern Mediterranean plays the role of fear and submission and divides more. Religion should be about love. Therefore, for Turkey and beyond less “religion interference” in the state affairs should be good for Turkey. I hope for Erdogan to leave the power in Turkey soon. In democratic countries the head of the state should change often. Thank you for your comment and have a nice day!
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