On 26.06.2018, at around 21:30, during a volunteer meeting about training on STIs planned to take place in our office, someone knocked on our door. When our volunteers asked who it was the person behind the door replied “We know [name withheld] is in there, give them up!” Our volunteers did not open the door and told the people that there was no such person at the office and that they did not know this person, after which the people started punching the door, swearing at and threatening our volunteers. Our volunteers immediately called the police and the board members of our association.
The person behind the door insulted and threatened our volunteers saying: “I have my friends waiting downstairs, I will wait until you open up, you will come out eventually. It doesn’t matter if you call the police” and “I will catch you, all of you pimps, I will look everywhere, I know … is in there, if … comes out of there I will ruin you! I know you are keeping … in there.”
After this the attacker continued banging on the door. Meanwhile, the police arrived at the scene and started banging on the door together with the attacker. Our volunteers at the office did not open the door as they were not sure that those arriving were the police, nevertheless they asked them to take the attacker away.
At that moment, the police started shouting and asking questions outside their authority such as “What association is this! Who is there, why are you hiding?” and saying, “I will call the Directorate of Associations, aren’t you man enough to come out!”, “Are you afraid of one man?”. Our volunteer who had been communicating with the people behind the door refused to open the door saying, “Obviously you will not help us.” Despite our volunteers’ call to the police, the officers stood by the attackers who were violent and threatening. Another officer who arrived later at the scene said, “We are under state of emergency rule, we can break the door and enter!” and “Look fellas, we heard that someone is in there, I have to take the family’s complaint seriously.”
During these conversations, one of our board members arrived at the office and wanted to talk to the police officers waiting outside the building. One of the attackers who had been waiting with the police officers outside the building attempted to attack our board member and assaulted them. As police did not intervene, our board member quickly ran to the association’s office.
Later, the officers returned and told our volunteers to open the door. Our board member asked if they had a search warrant and demanded to see their police IDs. One of the officers tried to intimidate our board member saying, “We don’t need a written warrant anymore, we can get permission from the prosecutor with one call, then we will take this door down!” and “Don’t make any fuss, we will
make the legal process work.”
In a short while the lawyers and other members of the board arrived at the office. Upon obtaining a warrant from the prosecutor, the police officers searched the association office in the company of a lawyer and checked the IDs of everyone present at the office. As it was evident that the attackers’ claims were ungrounded, the board members and volunteers went to Beyoğlu Police Precinct to file a complaint against the attackers, commencing the legal procedure. Yet, as the attackers were released in the early hours of the morning and as they had threatened the association members saying, “We will follow you until we find our child, we know where you are!”, the board has decided to keep the office closed for a while, in order to ensure the security of the volunteers and the participants of the association’s activities.
Due to the reasons mentioned above, the association board has had to postpone all association activities planned to take place at the office to later dates and to cancel the Pride Week activities.
We would like to thank all those who showed solidarity with us during the incident, all our members, volunteers, lawyers, LGBTI+ organizations and initiatives, partner institutions, independent activists, our loved ones and Pride Week Committee.
With love and solidarity,
SPoD Executive Board