#BeAVoiceForDiren

Friends of imprisoned LGBTI activist Diren Coşkun have started a campaign to support Diren who has started a death fast against the rights violations she has been enduring in a Turkish prison. The campaign urges supporters to sign a petition and to write e-letters, which will then be taken to Diren.

Diren was arrested on Aug. 14, 2017 with the allegation of “propaganda for an illegal organization.”

Diren is a trans woman and has been put in isolation after she rejected to stay in the male ward of the prison. Demanding an end to her solitary confinement and access to trans-specific healthcare, Diren started the death fast on Jan. 25.

Kıvılcım Arat from Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association announced her own death fast on Feb. 6 in solidarity with Coşkun. (Read Arat’s account of life in prison for trans inmates on here.)

To support Diren, please sign the petition or join the social media campaign by sharing your messages of solidarity these hashtags:

#SeiEineStimmeFürDiren

#DireneSesVer

#BeAVoiceForDiren

#WeesEenStemVoorDiren #SoyesUneVoixPourDiren

#TransRights

 

Evrensel: Mican’s threats and hate speech is considered freedom of speech

The Istanbul Chair of the Alperen Hearths Foundation, Kürşat Mican’s threats and hate speech against LGBTI Pride Walk was evaluated and ruled to be within the scope of freedom of speech by a state prosecutor’s investigation. Despite the fact that Mican is not a journalist, the prosecutor emphasized the ‘freedom of press’ in his verdict.

Source: Cansu Pişkin, “Mican’ın tehditleri, nefret söylemi ifade özgürlüğü sayıldı!”, Evrensel, February 10, 2018, https://www.evrensel.net/haber/345211/micanin-tehditleri-nefret-soylemi-ifade-ozgurlugu-sayildi

A criminal complaint had been filed against Kürşat Mican, who used threats and hate speech bearing statements during a television programme on KRT. The statements were directed towards the LGBTI Pride Walk planned to take place on June 25 last year. Lawyers Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin filed a complaint to the Istanbul Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, stating that Mican was inciting the public to hatred and animosity, using threats and insults. Mican had threatened the Pride Walk with the following statements: “These people plan to build a structure in every neighborhood. We warn our Intelligence Agencies. This is a project of the capitalist, communist, imperialist powers. They aim to spread homosexuality, to destroy the unity of family, to stop procreation, to end the husband-wife relationship and to prevent the growth of a generation which is a result of said relationship and which would do good for this nation. This dynamite is planted at the foundation of the structure of the family. Young people are getting inclined towards this direction. They especially went down to working at the level of neighborhoods. We will not allow this, whatever the cost may be. I’m addressing the Turkish nation, these are very dangerous structures. We need to prevent this immorality, this will spread otherwise. If the state allows this, we won’t. Where ever they will walk, we will go and block that region, that avenue, they won’t be able come there anyway. We will not let them walk. We can find 200 thousand people if need be.”

The statements were interpreted as within the legal parameters of press freedom.

Public Prosecutor Ersoy Altıntaş from the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor Press Crimes Inquiry Bureau evaluated the criminal complaint and found the statements to be within the scope of freedom of speech. Rather than focus on Mican’s words, Altıntaş frequently emphasized ‘press freedom’ in his verdict and on the medium of the statements, the TV channel, and the program–even though Mican is not a journalist. Altıntaş stated: “If a journalist is sentenced for helping disseminate another person’s words, this will create a serious obstacle against the contribution of the press in public debate. Thus, this should not be the path to take unless there are valid reasons to do so. To set the condition for the journalists to systematically refrain from statements which can hurt, incite, or defame others does not comply with the role of the press to inform the public on current affairs, opinions and notions.”

Prosecutor Altıntaş also suggested “freedom of speech is among the most fundamental rights in a democratic society” and stated “according to the regulation in the law, there needs to be a concrete danger in order to have an element of crime. The news article in this case does not create such a concrete danger; therefore, as in the incident for which the complaint is filed, the legal elements for the alleged crimes are not existent. As a result of the investigation carried out by our Office of Chief Public Prosecutor, it was understood from the documents pertaining to investigation that the alleged crimes had not come into existence”. The case is at the moment deemed as nolle prosequi. Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin have stated their intention to file an appeal to this verdict.

LGBTI activist Kıvılcım Arat joins Diren Coskun’s death fast

Trans woman Diren Coşkun, incarcerated in Tekirdağ No.2 Prison, has been on a hunger strike for 13 days, asking for an end to rights violations in detention and for her right to surgery and treatment. Her friend Kıvılcım Arat, too, has announced her own hunger strike to help Coşkun’s voice be heard and to support her right to treatment.

This article was compiled from: ”Diren Coşkun 13 gündür ölüm orucunda, Kıvılcım Arat da aynı eyleme başladı”, Gazete Karınca, February 6, 2018, http://gazetekarinca.com/2018/02/diren-coskun-13-gundur-olum-orucunda-kivilcim-arat-da-ayni-eyleme-basladi/

Keskesor activist Diren Coskun, who was arrested in August 2017, has completed the 13th day of her hunger strike in Tekirdağ No.2 Prison.

Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association Board Member and spokesperson for Democratic Women Movement Kıvılcım Arat had announced that trans woman Coşkun has started a hunger strike against the prevention of her right to surgery and treatment, and the rights violations occurring in prison. Coşkun had declared her protest as follows:

“I’ve been subjected to many humiliating practices here. I lay my body to die, to gain my right to surgery and treatment, and to have this severe isolation abolished. I hereby declare to democratic public opinion that I have started a hunger strike as of January 25.”

As Coşkun’s death fast continues, Kıvılcım Arat announced that she has “started a death fast in order to reinforce Diren Coşkun’s voice and to make her demand for treatment heard”.

Kıvılcım Arat tweeted on February 6:

“In spite of our best efforts, we were not able to draw attention to Diren’s demand for access to treatment. Her trans identity cast a shadow over her protest and rendered it invisible. As of February 6 00:00, I have started a fast in order to reinforce Diren Coşkun’s voice and to make her demand for treatment heard.”

Arat stated that she will continue the fast until Diren Coşkun’s demands are met. Arat has criticized the LGBTI community for its lack of interest in Coşkun’s current situation and has emphasized that the oppression and violence against trans individuals remains invisible.

Kaos GL: Human rights defender Ali Erol freed under judicial control!

Our co-founder and LGBTI rights defender Ali Erol was detained on Friday, Feb. 2 in his Ankara home where he lives with his partner on the grounds of his social media posts. Following his statement to the police and the prosecutor Tuesday, he was sent to the Criminal Court of Peace with a demand that he be put under judicial control. The Fifth Criminal Court of Peace ruled to free him under judicial control.

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We could not find the details of this detention and the ongoing investigation due to a confidentiality decision and this is a clear violation of freedom of thought and expression. The detention and investigation of Ali Erol due to his social media posts demanding peace following Ankara governor’s “ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period” in November 2017 reveals once again the increase in obstacles and pressures against LGBTI rights.

This pressure, detention and investigations against human rights defenders shows how much we need human rights. We once again repeat that everyone needs human rights.

Each year, thousands of human rights defenders are trying to be silence through fabricated or ridiculous reasons that turn into lengthy, costly and mostly unjust judicial processes. The long struggle in the field of human rights shows us that the effect of silencing human rights defenders can be more unnerving and long-lasting than directly putting pressure on those groups. Silencing human rights defenders who work to initiate civil organizations with bravery, who speak up and who are respected through their bravery and work is a powerful tool. Trying to suppress the courage of human rights defenders is a common tactic by those violating rights. Because of this, protecting human rights defenders is a fundamental area of work for human rights organizations across the World today. Because fear is as contagious as courage and fear can only be beaten by standing with courage.

Kaos GL Association

Editor’s note: Judicial control in Turkey usually entails going to the police station periodically and a ban on traveling abroad. 

Kaos GL: Co-founder Ali Erol has been detained

LGBTI activist Ali Erol, a member of the initial team to begin publishing Kaos GL magazine in 1994 and one of the founders of Kaos GL, was detained in a police operation on the house he shares with his life partner Friday morning.

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While there was no clear information on the grounds for Ali Erol’s detention, the lawyers said his social media posts were included in the detention warrant. The detentions of many people in Ankara police operations due to social media posts has been reported.

Detained Ali Erol is a leading LGBTI activist in the world and was the recipient of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award in 2013.

The detention of Erol, a leading activist in the LGBTI movement, once again shows the point freedom of expression has come to in Turkey. Erol’s detention following Ankara governor’s “ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period” in November 2017 reveals once again the increase in obstacles and pressures against LGBTI rights.

Our lawyers are following the judicial process. We will continue sharing as we learn details.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right. LGBTI rights are human rights. We demand that one of our founders, LGBTI activist Ali Erol be immediately released!

Kaos GL Association

Editor’s note: Hundreds of people have been detained on alleged terror propaganda charges on social media relating to Turkey’s cross-border operation on a Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria. The Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces are fighting the People’s Protection Units or YPG in Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG a terror group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The YPG is also a key ally of the United States in combatting the Islamic State group in Syria. Operation Olive Branch was launched on Jan. 20 and the Turkish government has cracked down on critical opinions of the military offensive. 

Kaos GL: When the perpetrator is trans, the media is ready to lynch

Newspapers use wording that triggers transphobic hate and prejudice while covering an incident in Samsun, involving a group of men and a person who is stated to be transgender.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Fail trans olunca medya attı tuttu bir asmadığı kaldı!”, Kaos GL, December 15, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25094

“Youngster attacked by a transvestite with razor barely survives”, “Tran-slash-tite”, “Slasher transvestite now roams free”, “Transvestite terror”…These headlines today are from the coverage of the incident in Samsun which involves a group of men and a person who is stated to be a transgender individual.

Transphobia starts with headlines

The newspapers have interpreted the incident through a transphobic lens starting with the headlines. Local newspapers in Samsun, Vitrin Haber, Gazete Arena and Korkusuz preferred to use the headline “Youngster attacked by a transvestite with razor barely survives”. Takvim used a completely transphobic headline “Tran-slash-tite” while Milliyet wrote “Transvestite who assaulted an 18 year old in the middle of the street in Samsun was caught”. Şok made its own mis-en-scene and wrote “Transvestite bully was caught and restrained” and Haber Samsun chose to go classical with the headline “Transvestite terror”.

It was only Altınova daily which did not state the gender identity of the perpetrator on the headline and wrote “Knife attack in Samsun”. The same newspaper also stated that the incident happened “due to reasons yet unknown”.

‘Only a stare’?

All but one daily preferred to report the incident with phrases such as “while [the assaulted] was walking on the street”, “while [the assaulted] was walking home from work”, “the youngster who was beaten up in the middle of the street” and continued: “18 year old youngster was attacked by a person who is yet unidentified but known to be a transvestite with a knife, after [he] stared [at the assailant]”.

The statement that the person who is reported to be transgender attacked the person mentioned after ‘ a stare’ is highly concerning. Because the hate attacks targeting LGBTI individuals are often serviced in media as ‘merely a fight’, ‘merely a stare’. It is a partial approach to reporting to ignore the transphobia existing in society and to report the incident as resulting from a mere ‘stare’ between a group of men and a person stated to be transgender.

Transphobia at every opportunity

Ignoring the disadvantages of the group identity of the perpetrator or the victim of the incident might omit the fact that prejudice may have triggered the incident. Moreover, the newspapers foster the prejudice by highlighting the gender identity of the perpetrator and stigmatize all trans individuals as ‘crime machines’.

These news articles, at every opportunity, express hatred against trans individuals who are never covered in the news aside from violent incidents. Similarly, these stories are not written to inform the reader about the incident but to cater to transphobic hate.

Might the prejudice have triggered the incident?

Kaos GL Association’s report entitled “The prosecution of hate crimes” stresses that many hate crimes are reflected as “merely a fight”:

“Many hate crimes take place during incidents which have other triggers such as ‘traffic fights’, arguments about boundaries between neighboring property or arguments about noise. These motives might turn into crimes motivated by racism and other prejudices as the incident unravels.”

Released on judicial control

The news outlets indicate that the transgender perpetrator was caught, gave testimony at the prosecutor’s office, and was released on judicial control condition. A local daily, Hedef Halk, reported the development as “Slasher transvestite now roams free”.

Kaos GL: Transphobic hate murder in Ayvalık

A trans woman, living in Ayvalık Sarımsaklı, was murdered on the balcony of her house in December. The news coverage of hate crimes which normalize the violence renders social prejudice invisible and the crime insignificant.

Source: Kaos GL, “Ayvalık’ta Transfobik Nefret Cinayeti”, kaosgl.org, December 15, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25090

A trans woman, living in Ayvalık Sarımsaklı, was murdered on the balcony of her house.

According to the news media coverage, the trans woman Kader was murdered with a single bullet to her head on her own balcony during the night of December 13. The murder suspects N.E.Ç and S.K. were taken into custody.

Newspapers normalize the hate crime

Hürriyet, Milliyet, Balıkesir Ekspres and Körfez’de Olay daily used Kader’s male ID name in their coverage of the hate murder against the trans woman. Milliyet, Körfez’de Olay daily and Balıkesir Ekspres used the headline “Transvestite Murder in Ayvalık”, Hürriyet wrote “Fortune teller Kader was killed on [her] balcony”.

These newspapers used expressions which strengthen the existing transphobic prejudice and introduced the victim as “[who] uses the nickname Fortune teller Kader”. All of the four dailies normalized the hate murder and violated the rights of the murdered person.

Hate murders do not only target the victim

In the crimes committed with hate the victims are chosen based on not by who they are in contrast to other crimes, but by what they represent. Therefore, the hate crimes give the message to the victim and the community the victim belongs to that they are not welcome and are not safe. The media coverage of the hate crimes which normalize the act render the social prejudice invisible and the act insignificant.

Kaos GL Association calls media employees’ attention to how the hate crimes which target LGBTI individuals are covered in its 2016 report on hate speech. You can access the report via this link.