High turnout at the hate crimes panel in Mersin

Ismail Saymaz from the Radikal newspaper and Yıldız Tar from Kaos GL participated in the “Hate Crimes” panel, on “Hrant Dink and Zirve Publishing House Assassinations” and “Sexual Orientation- and Gender Identity-based Hate Crimes,” at Mersin University. The panel was moved to a larger lecture hall due to high turnout.

mersin-universitesi-nefret-suclari-paneli

Photo by Salih-i Umar

Source: Salih-i Umar, “Mersin’de nefret suçları paneline yoğun ilgi” [“High turnout at the hate crimes panel in Mersin”], Kaos GL, 6 May 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19342

A significant number of students and professors participated in the panel, which started at Uğur Oral Cultural Center at 1:30pm. Canfida Çakırbay, on behalf of Avam Fanzin, and İsa Uğur Erdoğan, on behalf of Alternatif [a print-only magazine by Mersin University School of Communication students], gave brief speeches prior to the panel, which was sponsored by Mersin University Cinema Society, Avam Fanzin, Magazine Alternatif, Mersin University Eğitim-Sen Office, and Mersin 7 Colors LGBTI Foundation. The panel was then held under the moderatorship of Dr. Filiz Bilgin Ülken.

An Assassination of National Consensus

İsmail Yılmaz, who gave a lecture on the Hrant Dink assassination and the Zirve Publishing House massacre, stated that these two assassinations were implemented with the knowledge and collusion of the Justice and Development Party [AKP, the current ruling party in Turkey], the Gülen sect [an ultra-religious sect that is now in competition with AKP for political and financial power], Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency [MIT], the Gendarmerie, the Office of the Police Commissioner, and the Appellate Court.

Sharing the suppression and insults Dink was subjected to, Saymaz said:

“Hrant Dink was subjected to insults following his news article on Sabiha Gökçen[1]. The Joint Chiefs of Staff released a statement, claiming that ‘Hrant Dink is a national enemy.’ This was followed by the targeting of Hrant Dink by the Grey Wolves[2].”

Stating that Hrant Dink was accused of being an “enemy of the Turks” through media headlines and publications, Saymaz added that these were examples of hate speech.

The Worst Police Commissioner in Turkey’s History of Policing

İsmail Saymaz stated that Yasin Hayal, who instigated the assassination of Hrant Dink [by Ogün Samast], had been planning assassinations and that the Police Commissioner was informed about this. He added that

“Ramazan Akyürek, the Police Commissioner at the time, who received the tip [about the assassination], is the worst police commissioner in Turkish policing history. Yasin Hayal had attacked a church prior to the Hrant Dink Assassination. He had bombed McDonalds. When the tip arrived after these incidents, he forwarded it to Istanbul and Ankara and failed to process the assassination tip. Additionally, he did not provide protection to Dink.”

Saymaz stated that, as a process, the Zirve Publishing House Massacre[3] is similar to the Dink Assassination. Saymaz added, stating that this was a massacre realized through collaboration, that:

“The Malatya Gendarmerie of the time had wiretapped the victims and their families a few days before the massacre and had them under constant surveillance. Again, the Malatya Police Commissioner at the time, Ali Osman Kahya, provided weapons training for the assailants. And the massacre was blatantly realized the very next day. Despite all this, the police commissioner remained in his post and was appointed to Bursa three years later.”

The Myth of “Homosexuality was Imported from the West”

Yıldız Tar, a journalist, reporter, and Kaos GL’s editor, lectured on hate crimes in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Tar, who stated that LGBTI-related news first started to be published in Turkey in 1960s-1970s, said:

“At first, they used the term ‘freak’ [‘ucube’] to refer to trans and homosexual people. At the time, they were claiming that LGBTIs were imported from the West and that they will reproduce and spread [sic] here. The [broadcast and] ‘stage ban’ by the 1980 military coup against trans and homosexuals along with their expulsion from the cities and the lynchings in 1990s and 2000s are cited as examples of hate crimes.”

The 1996 Cihangir and 2000 Avcılar Examples

Tar stated that a formidable lynching campaign was initiated in 1990s and that the journalism ethic and language at the time was effective in the exiling of individuals and their transformation into open targets. Tar stated that 1996 was especially restless in this context and added:

“People in Cihangir [a neighborhood in Istanbul], chanting ‘We Don’t Want Prostitution in Here,’ attacked trans people. In an attempt to force them out of the neighborhood, [police] helicopter-supported operations were conducted and their homes were attacked.”

The “National Consensus” Lynching in Avcılar

Tar stated that a similar example was experienced in Avcılar [a neighborhood in Istanbul], where Tar arrived to report on the events and encountered a shocking scene.

“When we heard about the event, we immediately went to the area. An attack was carried on the Avcılar Meis Housing Complex. We have observed that people from a variety of conflicting political views, for whom we thought would be impossible to come together, had come together there for a lynching.”

Tar conveyed in a humorous tone that the newspapers Vahdet and Yeni Akit always talk about them and follow them the most, while also citing the newspapers’ most commonly used headline terms “Pervert-Heretic.” Tar also spoke of the Hürriyet newspaper:

“The Hürriyet newspaper publishes the announcement for our pride event, yet two pages ahead, it brings to its headlines a trans murder by detailing what the victim was wearing, whether she was wearing a mini skirt, and so on.”

Reporting that discrimination in the media is increasing, Tar added:

“We want citizenship under equal terms. We want gender identity to be protected in the constitution by name. We have to act against hateful discourses. This is crucial in terms of organizing social life.”

 


[1] Hailed by many as the symbol of and instrumental in the militarized construction of early Turkish womanhood, Sabiha Gökçen is not only the stepdaughter of Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, but also the first woman fighter pilot in Turkey who additionally participated in the air raids of the 1937-38 Dersim Massacre against Kurds. On February 6, 2004, Hrant Dink published an interview, titled “The Secret of Sabiha Hatun” [“Sabiha Hatun’un Sırrı”], in the Agos newspaper. In this interview, Hripsime Sebilciyan claimed that she was Sabiha Gökçen’s niece and that Gökçen was in fact an Armenian orphan, a claim that had the potential to shatter the Turkish national identity project at its threads. For more information on the events that followed, see also “Anti- Campaigns and Court Cases” in Hrant Dink’s Biography. –Trans.

[2] The Grey Wolves, “Ülkü Ocakları,” is a neo-fascist youth organization with formal ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Established in 1960s, the organization operated as a death squad during the civil turmoil and perpetrator of numerous massacres leading to the 1980 military coup. It was later uncovered that it was used as part of a counter-guerilla force by the Turkish government against leftists and minorities during the Cold War era, as part of the Turkish branch of NATO’s Gladio. –Trans.

[3] On 18 April 2007, a number of assailants with alleged links to and support from a clandestine fascist sect of the Turkish gendarmerie, military, and security forces (also see here), tortured and murdered three Protestant employees of Zirve Publishing House in Malatya. –Trans.

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