Rights Violations in 2014

Rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in 2014 in Turkey

Three perps get 27 years each in prison for raping trans sex worker in Turkey

3 suspects get 27 years and 6 months each for allegedly forcing a trans worker into their car in Izmir and raping her in a forest.

Source: Kaos GL, “Trans seks işçisine tecavüze 27’şer yıl hapis”, (“Three perps get 27 years each in prison for raping trans sex worker”), kaosGL.org, 11 July 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19822

On 22 September 2014, trans sex worker M.T. agreed [on a sex work deal] with Cengiz K. who approached her by car. When Cengiz K. also pick up his friends Çağlar Ş. and Erol K., M.T. wanted to leave.

The two people who got in the car later allegedly shut M.T.’s mouth and took her to a forest in Yamanlar. The three people raped M.T. and ran off with her jewellery after forcing her with a knife. Police quickly caught the three suspects through the car’s license plate. Çağlar Ş., Cengiz K., and Erol K. were arrested after being sent to the prosecutor.

The three defendants and lawyers attended the last hearing in Izmir 7th Heavy Penal Court. In the previous hearing M.T. had testified saying, “They threatened me and said, “If you don’t want to die here, do as you are told, we have a knife in the car, we’ll cut you.” They forcibly undressed me. They raped me taking turns without my consent. I’m bringing a complaint against the defendants.”

Defendant Çağlar Ş. said, “We did not forcibly do anything to this person. The person was already under the influence of alcohol when the person got in the car. We couldn’t agree on the money. Once the deed was done, they [1] demanded a high amount of money. When we told them that we won’t pay what they were demanding, they screamed and shouted and threw the money at our face. They are complaining about us because they found the money too low.”

Erol K. argued that they have been detained for a long time and are therefore victims and said, “The complainant isn’t even coming to the hearings. We have families, kids, and regular jobs. Our only fault is to have had a [sexual] relation with their consent. I defer this first to God and then to you.”

Cengiz K. stated, “Do you think a person who willingly hurts themselves and hurts without pity would pity others? I believe you’ll act justly. I defer this first to almighty God and then to you.”

The prosecutor gave the opinion to acquit the defendants for the crime of plunder but to punish them for the other crimes. After a short recess, the court president gave 27 years and 6 months of prison sentence to each of the defendants for “sexual assault” and “depriving the person of their freedom”. The defendants and their relatives reacted to the decision and the defendants were taken back to prison.

[1] The Turkish language does not have gendered pronouns and it is unclear how the defendants’ approached M.T.’s gender identity. The choice of “they” by the translator is to keep the quotes gender-neutral like Turkish- but it does not mean that the defendants’ respected M.T.’s gender identity.

Police Harassment, House Raids and Detainment in Istanbul

Source: “İstanbul’da Polis Tacizi, Ev Baskınları ve Gözaltı”, (“Police Harassment, House Raids and Detainment”), Pembe Hayat, December 4, 2014, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=594

Over the last week the police have targeted trans women and sex workers in Istanbul. House raids were conducted targeting the homes of trans people working and living in Findikzade and Haseki regions.

The police arbitrarily detained trans women street sex workers the previous week and took them to the Venereal Diseases Hospital, also known in slang as“Can Can”. This past week they conducted house raids. The women were released after being subjected to blood tests.

The police acquired trans women’s phone numbers and addresses through the internet and social media and raided their homes. Women were detained without cause and some of the women’s residences were sealed by the police.

Transwomen who have been harassed by the police and who point to the recently passed “Domestic Security Blanket Bill” as the cause behind these arrests and raids, will object to the fines they are issued based on the Law of Misdemeanors. The new bill has created major concern among the LGBTI community and trans women sex workers.

Read “the New Domestic Security Legislation and Its Potential Implications for LGBTI Individuals” to access trans activist and lawyer Idil Su’s report.

Why is Ahmet Yıldız’s murderer still not found after six years?

The trial regarding Ahmet Yıldız’ murder by his father was postponed again. His father is still not found. Ümmühan Darama who was injured during the incident also spoke out against the lack of justice. Attorney Fırat Söyle stated, “We have not been able to make the slightest progress in all this time.”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Ahmet Yıldız’ın katili 6 yıldır neden bulunamıyor?” (“Why is Ahmet Yıldız’s murderer still not found after six years?”), Kaos GL, 13 November 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17941

Ahmet Yıldız

Ahmet Yıldız

Ahmet Yıldız was killed [by his father] in a homophobic murder in 2008. The 18th hearing of his case took place today [13 November] at the 5th High Criminal Court of the Istanbul Anatolian Courthouse.

The panel of judges decided to wait for the enforcement of the red notice search warrant for Yıldız’s murderer father Yahya Yıldız. The panel also put forth that the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Police Department be consulted for information. The case was postponed again. The next hearing will take place on 26 March 2015 at 10:30.

“Neither the Turkish police nor the gendarmerie have been able to find this one person for six years”

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MP asks the Ministry of Justice about Hate Crimes

Melda Onur, a prominent parliamentarian in Turkey, filed an official parliamentary question, asking the Ministry of Justice about hate crimes against LGBTI individuals and formal measures taken against such crimes (PDF file).

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Republican People’s Party (CHP)

Group Presidency

Date: 20 October 2014

No: 31239

To the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey

I request that my questions below be answered by the Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ, in writing.

Melda Onur

Member of Parliament from Istanbul

In Turkey, the othering of those who are perceived as different is transforming into hate murders when encouraged by the hate speech of some opinion leaders. The most obvious targets of these murders are LGBTI individuals and hate crimes against these individuals are increasing daily.

The murders that have been occurring in various cities show that the government does not take permanent legal measures or precautions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

These attacks, which especially target trans individuals, have most recently led to both the discovery of the dead body of a trans woman, Gypsy Gül, in her Istanbul home as well as the brutal murder of trans woman Corti Emel. Effective investigations are not conducted after these attacks, which threaten the right to life; the punishments given to the criminals do not act as deterrents.

On the other hand, the “Bill to Amend Various Laws to Improve Fundamental Rights and Freedoms”, more commonly known as the “Democratization Package” was put forth by the government in March and passed as law by the Parliament. With the Democratization Package, the phrase “hate” has been included in law for the first time. However, the terms gender identity and sexual orientation have not been included in the law and no added punishment will be given if sexual assault and sexual harassment, etc. are conducted with motivation rooted in hatred.

Therefore, the inability to prevent physical and verbal assaults against LGBTI individuals across the country is a reflection of this legal vacuum.

As such,

  1. In the new legislative year, do you foresee additional arrangements to include attacks against LGBTI individuals within the scope of hate crimes?

  2. Does your ministry’s agenda include an action plan to prevent hate motivated attacks and murders that target LGBTI individuals? Are you considering coordination with other institutions?

  3. What is the number of trans and gay individuals who have lost their lives due to hate crimes in the last five years? What is the distribution of these across different cities?

  4. How many people have been tried for hate crimes against LGBTI individuals up to today and what is the total amount of jail time that these people were sentenced to?

A young gay Syrian’s story – from Syria to Turkey

This is the story of Maher, who had to escape and migrate from Syria to Lebanon, then to Sudan, and finally to Turkey. A life wrapped in the war in Syria and dual discrimination both as a Syrian and as a gay man in Turkey. 

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Suriye’den İstanbul’a eşcinsel bir gencin hikayesi” (“A young gay’s story from Syria to Turkey”). Kaos GL, 24 October 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17785

Millions of Syrians were forced out of their homeland as a result of the war in Syria and ISIS assaults. Some headed over to Europe; many lost their relatives during as their travels was well as the war.

Maher  Daoud, who we interviewed in a coffee shop in Kurtuluş, Istanbul, was  among the millions who had to leave their homeland. He had to leave Latakia in the 23rd year of his life which began in the city. Maher tells  the story of migration from Latakia [al-Lādhiqīyah]  to Lebanon, then to Sudan, and finally to Istanbul. He speaks fast, telling his story at once, as if someone were following us.

“Art is like breathing”

Maher,  who is now 24, is a young gay artist. He studied architecture in Syria.  However, he was forced to leave before being able to graduate. He also draws aquarelle and acrylic illustrations. Maher says that, in each of  his drawings, a gay story is hidden. To Maher, to make art is to breathe.  Because Syria does not have a “gay life,” art is the only space within which he can breathe.

I ask about the situation in Latakia. Maher says that life in Latakia is horrible:

“Latakia is Bashar al-Assad’s city. As such, the pressure was always intensive.  To speak, to do something was almost impossible. It was so in art too. I  had to put a lot of effort to be able to open my second art exhibit.  You have to get signatures from a lot of places. I had to deal with  almost every police officer in the police station. They examine each and every painting, find some to be “appropriate” and some “inappropriate.”  They kept asking why I was making such paintings. They were trying to judge whether I was against Bashar al-Assad.”

maherdaoud

Maher dislikes talking about politics. This also has to do with the notion that “it is a sin to speak politics in Syria.” He thinks that politics changes nothing. He desires more art.[1]

Things became even tougher with war. He says that the war between Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)  made things much more difficult in Syria. To Maher, the rebellion for “freedom” was initially beautiful. However, everything changed when Assad began the massacres and when those opposing Assad began using the same methods [sic].

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A trans woman in Tarlabaşı has been stabbed in the back

Source: Yıldız Tar. “Tarlabaşı’nda trans kadın sırtından bıçaklandı.” (“A trans woman in Tarlabaşı has been stabbed in the back.”) Kaos GL, 20 October 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17754

A trans woman in Tarlabaşı, Istanbul, has been stabbed in the back; the police failed to intervene. Lawyer Levent Pişkin evaluated the situation, saying that “the increase in attacks is related to the Islamic conservatism. That the assailants remain ‘unidentified’ is the covering up of the crime.”

Source: Kaos GL

Source: Kaos GL

Transphobic hate attacks have been increasing lately. In a new attack, on Saturday, October 18, 2014, a trans woman, Aylin, was stabbed in Tarlabaşı, Istanbul.

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Journalist Yıldız Tar: The police beat me

Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Gazeteci Yıldız Tar: Polisler beni dövdü” (“Journalist Yıldız Tar: The police beat me”). T24, 10 October 2014, http://t24.com.tr/haber/polisler-beni-dovdu,273415, accessed on 15/10/2014.

Yıldız Tar, who was beaten by the civil police during protests for Kobane, recounted their experience to T24.

Yıldız Tar[1], the editor of Kaos GL, claimed that they were assaulted by the police during an intervention involving pepper spray while covering the sit-in held in Galatasaray Square to protest the siege of Kobane, Syria by ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).

“When I said I was a reporter, they ran away”

Yıldız Tar: “Police had begun to push the protesters away from Galatasaray Square towards Tophane. At that moment I saw somebody get injured and taken to hospital in an ambulance. I encountered strong police intervention as I was trying to record the incident. They beat me. They ran away when I told them that I was a reporter.”

Journalist Tar pointed out that, during the protest, the police were particularly tough on those working for independent media. It has been claimed that, during the Kobane protests in Izmir, the police told a reporter from Dicle News Agency[2]: “I know you, I know who you are, choose your side, go there or stay here.”

[1] In Tar’s words, Yıldız Tar was born in 2010 at Bosphorus University as they rejected the name and the gender assigned to them by their family and the society. They are an activist working with Lambdaistanbul and a reporter writing for independent media outlets. … They hate writing their autobiography and can get quite irritable when labeled as a woman or a man. (Source)

[2] An independent Kurdish news agency.