Rights Violations in 2016

Lawyers Levent Pişkin and Cahit Kırkazak released

Detained LGBTI activist and lawyer Levent Pişkin and lawyer Cahit Kırkazak have been released on conditions of judicial control and restrictions on travelling abroad.

Source: Kaos GL, “Lawyers Levent Pişkin and Cahit Kırkazak released”, Kaos GL, 17 November 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22515

Detained after their meetings with arrested Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, LGBTI activist and Lawyer Levent Pişkin and lawyer Cahit Kırkazak have been released on conditions of judicial review and restrictions on travelling abroad by the Criminal Court of Peace in Bursa Courthouse.

In the scope of the same trial, interrogation of 7 other detainees sent to the court for arrest is continuing.

According to Evrensel’s news, lawyer and HDP Istanbul Provincial Administrator Levent Pişkin was accused with the allegations of “organizing the act to lobby internationally against our country by publishing a note regarding the HDP co-chair Demirtas’ arrest in the German Der Spiegel magazine” during his interrogation by the police.

Levent Pişkin said the following in his statement:

On November 5, as the party (HDP) lawyers, we met with Demirtas and other imprisoned parliamentarians in Edirne, Silivri, and Kandira prisons. On November 6, we organized a news conference for national and international press in HDP’s Istanbul Provincial Headquarters to announce the results of the meetings. After this meeting, international journalists asked questions in English. As the only lawyer who spoke English, I answered their questions.

After the meeting, two people from the German Der Spiegel asked me if I can bring a handwritten note by Demirtas with a message about his condition. I told them that I would not be going to Edirne prison this week but that if there is another friend (who’d go), I could tell them to relay their request to Demirtas.

I told Mr. Cahit that a German magazine asked for a handwritten note from the president (Demirtas) and asked him if he could or could not relay this message to the president and if the president agreed on a handwritten note, whether he could or could not bring that message. That’s the content of the conversation. There is no lobbying activity with any German magazine. The event is purely that I spoke with Mr. Cahit because I was by chance the only person in the provincial building who spoke English.

What happened?

Representing arrested HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, attorney Levent Pişkin was taken into custody during a house raid in Istanbul at around 5 a.m. on November 14.

Before the detention, allegations took place in media outlets such as Takvim, Sabah, Ulusal Kanal (sourcing state-run Anadolu news agency) that Pişkin and Kırkazak would send Demirtaş’s messages to a magazine  in Germany to be used for propaganda.

A social media action with #LeventPişkinYalnızDeğildir hashtags, meaning #LeventPiskinIsNotAlone was started. Libertarian Lawyers’ Association (Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği) where he’s a member, Center for Truth Justice Memory and Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee made statements about his detention.

His alma mater Boğaziçi University and Solidarity Network with Arrested Students (Tutuklu Öğrencilerle Dayanışma Ağı) published messages of support for him.

His detention was also covered in the international media. The Paris Bar Association granted Pişkin honorary membership.

Turkey’s state-run news agency story on Lawyer Levent Piskin

A magazine in Germany asked for a message to Europe and Germany from the HDP’s Co-President Demirtas through a lawyer who would visit him in prison for the purposes of propaganda.

Source: Uğur Ulu, “Alman dergisi propaganda için Demirtaş’tan mesaj istemiş”, (“German magazine asked for a message from Demirtas for propaganda”), Anadolu Agency, 12 November 2016, http://aa.com.tr/tr/turkiye/alman-dergisi-propaganda-icin-demirtastan-mesaj-istemis/683979

It has been found that a magazine in Germany asked for a note from the HDP’s (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Co-President Selahattin Demirtas for propaganda in Europe and Germany.

According to information gathered by Anadolu Agency reporter, the Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the detention of lawyer C.K. who has been tracked for a while in relation to the investigation on terror organization PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

C.K., a lawyer in Bursa, was detained by the Provincial Police Headquarters Anti-Terror Unit in the morning on Monday, 7 November.

It has been learned that C.K. was planning to visit the HDP’s Co-president Demirtas in Edirne F Type Prison where he has been imprisoned and that C.K. announced this to some administrators.

It has been recorded that lawyer L.P., who is an administrator in the HDP’s Istanbul district presidency, contacted C.K. upıon finding out that C.K. would visit Demirtas and informed him of the German magazine’s request.

It has been determined that the German magazine requested “a handwritten note by Demirtas, with a message addressing Europe and Germany.” for propaganda purposes.

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee on Lawyer and Activist Levent Piskin’s detention 

Levent Pişkin, an activist of LGBTI+ movement, Pride Week volunteer, an active member of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği – ÖHD) and a human rights advocate, was detained illegally after a raid to his home.

Levent Pişkin, previously sued by the President on an insult case, has always continued his solidarity with our friends, actively struggling against all policies of repression and intimidation, with his open LGBTI identity.

We have recently been witnessing a witch hunt against all opposition groups in the disguise of combatting the network of Fethullah Gulen known as the Fethullah Gulenist terror organization (FETO), which is blamed by the government for masterminding the 15 July failed coup. Earlier this month, the co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party or HDP were arrested along with eight other parliamentarians on terror-related charges. Last Friday, the Ministry of Interior announced the shut down of 370 associations with alleged links to terror groups; among them were associations fighting for the rights of women, children and LGBTI+.

Levent Pişkin was detained after being targeted by pro-government media through stories that claimed “a German magazine” would write “propaganda” on behalf of arrested HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş. This detention is an extension of the attacks against the client-attorney relationship and the right to be defended by a lawyer. Neither the meeting of a lawyer with his/her client nor explaining these meetings to local or foreign press constitutes a criminal act!

This illegal practice of investigation and detention is a deliberate violation of the right to defense and to fair trial.

We call upon all those who resist, to come together and to speak out more.

Levent Pişkin is not alone, we will be following the judicial process!

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

istanbulpride@gmail.com

LGBTI Activist Lawyer Levent Pişkin detained in Turkey

One of the attorneys of recently arrested HDP Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtaş was detained after being targeted by the pro-government media.

Editor’s Note: The co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested along with eight other parliamentarians in November. HDP is the third largest party in Parliament with 59 elected lawmakers. The lawmakers were arrested on terror-related charges pending trial. Turkey’s government accuses the HDP of being the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decades-long insurgency against the state. The party rejects the accusation.

Source: “LGBTI Aktivisti Avukat Levent Pişkin Gözaltına Alındı” (LGBTI Activist Lawyer Leven Pişkin is detained), kaosgl.org, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22488, November 14, 2016

Levent Pişkin, who is a lawyer, LGBTI activist and an HDP Istanbul administrator, had recently visited HDP Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtaş in prison and was detained early this morning.

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Special operations police units arrived at Pişkin’s house in Kurtuluş, Istanbul around 05.00 a.m and confiscated some of Pişkin’s belongings from his room after detaining him.

Pişkin, a member of Libertarian Jurists Association (ÖHD), which is among the 370 associations ordered to halt their activities, is a renowned human rights advocate. ÖHD announced Pişkin’s detention on Twitter:

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Libertarian Jurists Association Istanbul Branch: “Our member, HDP Istanbul administrator Lawyer Leven Pişkin was detained during early morning, after being targeted by the pro-government media.”

Pişkin had visited his client Demirtaş as a lawyer and was targeted by Sabah daily (sourcing state-run Anadolu news agency) with the following statements:

It has been recorded that lawyer L.P., who is an administrator in the HDP’s Istanbul district presidency, contacted C.K. upıon finding out that C.K. would visit Demirtas and informed him of the German magazine’s request.

It has been determined that the German magazine requested “a handwritten note by Demirtas, with a message addressing Europe and Germany.” for propaganda purposes.

Levent Pişkin was detained by the orders of Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office and is being taken to Bursa.

Lawyer C.K. was detained based on the same allegations on November 7 and was later released.

Lawyer Levent Pişkin also represents LGBTI associations and takes part in Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee. He represents Istanbul Pride March and Pride Week.

“Conservatism” eviction for Istanbul LGBTI office

The property owner of Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association’s office on Beyoğlu’s Öğüt Street has asked the organization to vacate on the grounds that they do not condone their activities.

The activists said: “What you call ‘these kind of activities’ is the struggle for equality and freedom. Even if we are the only people left, we will not abandon this dream!”

Source: “Istanbul LGBTI’nin ofisine ‘muhafazakârlık’ tahliyesi!” (“‘Conservatism’ eviction for Istanbul LGBTI office”), September 29, 2016, T24, http://t24.com.tr/haber/Istanbul-LGBTInin-ofisine-muhafazakarlik-tahliyesi,362406

Speaking to Çiçek Tahaoğlu from Bianet, Kıvılcım Arat, association board member, said that they would not leave their flat, which they had newly renovated. Arat said the following:

“I link this situation [relates] to recent events. We have been using the same office since the day we were founded. Since the state of emergency [declared after the July 15 failed coup attempt] institutions doing alternative projects have been experiencing pressure. There is an attempt to remove us from the place [where] we have not experienced any problems in for seven years, with conservatism being used as an excuse.”

Kırancı: They were a good person

Association President Ebru Kırancı explained the situation as follows:

“The flat has two owners. One is a lawyer. The lawyer requested a meeting with us today. They were the one who gave us the flat, they are a good person.

“Today they said to us, ‘I am a lawyer, a democratic person. But my partner is conservative and definitely does not want you to stay here, wants you to leave.’

“In other words, the other property owner is uncomfortable because of our gender identity and sexual orientation, and the association’s employees. The lawyer on the other hand congratulated me for returning to my education and making it to the second class as a trans woman.”

“We are familiar with the justification: Conservatism”

In an announcement over Istanbul LGBTI’s social media accounts, these statements were made:

“As of today, we are being asked to leave our association office, from which we have carried out our activities for seven years. The justification is Conservatism, which we have become familiar with over the past 10 years or so. The property owner has stated that they will not give permission for these kind of activities in their own building.

“We are declaring this one more time! What you call ‘these kind of activities’ is the struggle for equality and freedom. And even if we are the only people left, we will not abandon this dream! We will continue the struggle until we eliminate fascism, racism and sexism!”

About Istanbul LGBTI

Founded in 2007 by trans activists, Istanbul LGBTI became an association in 2011.

The association, which concentrates on trans issues, provides psychological support and advice to trans people.

The association organized Turkey’s first Trans Pride March in 2010. The Trans Pride March has been repeated every year since then. 

Since 2013, the association has also carried out its Trans Home project, which opens its door to trans people without current housing and LGBTI refugees and migrants who are under the threat of violence in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

“Where is Hüseyin?” Trans Woman Reports Lover Assaulted and Kidnapped by Family in Turkey

Deniz, a transwoman, recently called Pink Life LGBT Association to notify them that her lover Hüseyin was kidnapped by his family and has been incommunicado. Concerned that the family who have physically assaulted Hüseyin and Deniz might further hurt Hüseyin, we ask: Where is Hüseyin?!

Source: “Hüseyin Nerede?” September 22, 2016, Pink Life , http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1241

Deniz, a trans woman who lives in Bursa, contacted Pink Life Association’s lawyer Rıza Yalçın Koçak and told him that Hüseyin’s family cut in front of them in their car while the two of them were walking on the street. After physically assaulting both, the family fired shots into the air with their guns, forced Hüseyin into the car and drove away, reported Deniz.

Directed by lawyer Rıza Yalçın Koçak, Deniz went to the Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office and filed criminal charges. The Prosecutor’s Office started the process and issued a protection order for Deniz in compliance with Law 6284.

“They don’t want their son to be lovers with a transvestite”

Lawyer Koçak directed Deniz to the family’s summer home in Küçük Kumla as the most probable location where Hüseyin might be detained. Following the correspondence over the phone with the Küçük Kumla Gendarmarie Station, a request was made to the station to send the gendarmerie, accompanied by Deniz, to check the addresses to find Hüseyin. The commander at the station spoke with lawyer Koçak and told him, “Don’t worry, we will take care of this.” However, later that night the same station told Deniz that the address in question was not within their jurisdiction and sent her to the Gemlik Police Station. A military officer who identified himself as the station commander and spoke to lawyer Koçak made the following statement that lays bare their approach to the issue: “Hüseyin is alright, we met with the father, he is not going to hurt him, but he does not want his son to be lovers with a transvestite, either.” Despite lawyer Koçak’s efforts, the Küçük Kumla  Gendarmerie Station did not call the family into the station to take their statement.

Lawyer Koçak contacted the Gemlik Police Station where Deniz was sent. At the station, Koçak explained the urgency of the situation and requested that the family be brought to the station for a statement. Gemlik Police Station first claimed lack of jurisdiction over the address. When Deniz and lawyer Koçak persisted, they told Deniz that they would conduct a raid at the address, took Deniz with them, and instead of raiding the address, they dropped Deniz off in Bursa city center.

The following day, Çelik Özdemir from Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association spoke with Pink Life lawyer Rıza Yalçın Koçak and offered their support. Ali Sevilen and Gülbiz Alkan from Bursa Free Colors (Bursa Özgür Renkler, an LGBT association) also joined the process in solidarity.

First, the group met with Bursa MP Orhan Sarıbal and requested that he should demand information about the situation. The group also contacted Bursa MP Nurhayat Altaca Kayışoğlu to ensure that the representatives were informed about the situation.

Deniz was subsequently directed to the Merinos Police Station after Pink Life received information that the family gave a statement at the station located in the Bursa city center. Lawyer Koçak also met with the police at the station. The police merely stated that Hüseyin was alright with no further comment or information.

Accompanied by activists from Bursa Free Colors, Deniz first went to the Gemlik Police Station. Here activists were told Hüseyin was fine, that he even filed charges against Deniz and did not want to see her. The station produced no evidence in support of these claims. Lawyer Koçak inquired at the Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office by submitting Hüseyin’s ID and determined that Hüseyin had not filed any charges against Deniz.

“No Police Officer on Duty”

Activists from Bursa Free Colors were told by the Gemlik Police Station to go to the Merinos Police Station to give supplementary statement without which, they claimed, they could not do anything. Activists took Deniz to the Merinos Police Station but were told that there was no police officer on duty thus no statement was taken.

Upon lawyer Koçak’s request, Bursa MP Orhan Sarıbal went to the Merinos Police Station and reported the following: “Merinos Police Station told me Hüseyin is fine. But they have not seen him. We told them they would be culpable for anything bad that happens and left the station.”

Deniz subsequently went to the Bursa Governor’s Office and filed a petition that Hüseyin is missing and that there is concern about his safety. Governor’s Office forwarded the petition to Bursa Security Directorate. Lawyer Koçak met with Bursa Security Directorate and explained the situation.

Bursa Security Office Arrogation Bureau stated that they were on the case, but as of September 22, 8:00 pm, lawyer Koçak was told on the phone that Hüseyin gave a statement at the Merinos Police Station and he was fine.”

However, during the last meeting, Merinos Police Station had claimed that they had not taken Hüseyin’s statement and were unaware of the matter.

“The picture that has emerged makes us all the more concerned for Hüseyin’s safety”

Pink Life lawyer Rıza Yalçın Koçak made the following statement regarding the case:

“As we are trying to explain,

Both law enforcement officers, gendarmerie and police have adopted a partisan attitude and refused to fulfil their official duties. In the face of conflicting information given by them, we are led to conclude that law enforcement is being dishonest. The picture that has emerged makes us all the more concerned about Hüseyin’s safety.”

Hüseyin may currently be detained by his family.

Hüseyin may currently be subject to torture and maltreatment.

What we have experienced strengthens this thought and we hereby declare to the public that Gemlik Police Station, Küçük Kumla Gendarmerie Station, Merinos Police Station, Bursa Security Directorate and Bursa Governor’s Office, and foremost, Hüseyin’s family will be culpable for anything bad that happens to him. We reiterate our concern and ask one more time:

Where is Hüseyin?”

 

Trans Woman Attacked, Forced to Leave Istanbul Neighborhood

Kıvılcım Arat, LGBTI activist, was forced to leave her home of five years due to continuous attacks from a group of young men living in her neighborhood.

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Trans Kadına ‘Bu Mahalle Gezici Değil’ Saldırısı”, September 21, 2016, BiaNet, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/178863-trans-kadina-bu-mahalle-gezici-degil-saldirisi

Kıvılcım Arat is a board member of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association as well as the spokesperson of the Democratic Women’s Movement.

She was forced to abandon her home in Beyoğlu due to fear for her personal safety. She has moved to another city and is temporarily living in an acquaintance’s house. She plans to work and save some money before returning to Istanbul and seeking new accommodations.

Due to Arat’s concern for her safety, we cannot include the name of the neighborhood or her current whereabouts in the piece.

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“They have screenshots of my news interviews”

Arat told the story of how a group of young men harassed and threatened her on her way in and out of the neighborhood:

“I have been living in the same neighborhood for the last five years. I had no previous problems with these kids. About a month ago, just as I was entering my home, they stopped me, “Wait for a second.” I tried to enter the apartment building but one of them was at the door, both holding but also trying to block the others’ way in.

“They showed me screenshots of my interviews with bianet, Jinha and İMC TV broadcasts before shouting ‘this is not a Gezi-spirited neighborhood.’ They went on to shout sexist slurs and threaten me with rape. ‘Nobody will be able to save you from us,’ they told me.”

“You will never be on TV again”

“I managed to walk into my home then but they continued their threats in the following days, adding ‘you will never be on tv again.’ They would bring their own foldable chairs outside and sit there in the middle of the neighborhood. For a few days, I asked for help from my neighbors to get home. They escorted me from the end of the street to my apartment building.

“10 days after the first attack, I and a friend of mine from the solidarity association came home. They were waiting at the entrance. It was a tense moment but we managed to walk in the building. After that we heard a commotion outside. As a trans friend of ours was entering the building, the group attacked them shouting, ‘Whore! Is that your pimp?’

“Four days after this event, they threw bottles at me. I could not take it anymore, so I transferred my rent contract. My whole life is upside down. I need to find a new home now.”

Alderman tried to evict Arat from her apartment

Arat also claimed that the neighborhood alderman had taken part in the events, and that the alderman had tried to evict her from her apartment:

“When my neighbors went to the neighborhood alderman’s office for some paperwork, the alderman asked them for my landlord’s number. When they asked why, he claimed that I was a sex worker and added ‘we do not know who comes in and out of the apartment.’ My neighbors reacted to this statement and told the alderman, ‘we have been living in the same building for years. We have not seen any strangers come and go. Furthermore, she was attacked. She cannot come to her own home for a week now.’”

When the neighbors could not convince the alderman, the alderman of a near neighborhood, Çiğdem Nalbantoğlu, intervened and reminded that it is not within an alderman’s rights or duties to evict residents and persuaded against calling Arat’s landlord. The alderman later said ‘Kıvılcım Hanım (Arat), should come to visit us for some tea.’

“They attacked a 60 year old woman, they could easily kill me”

Arat added that she was not the only target of these men in her neighborhood:

“A Romanian woman lives across the street. Since her apartment is on the ground floor, you can see her television. They keep harassing her, saying ‘why don’t you turn your tv off during the call to prayer?’

“On July 16th, they attacked a woman who lived here for years with her two kids. The woman had just asked these people to be quiet. They threatened her. The woman had to escape back into her building. They yelled ‘traitors’ on the street.

“I am not safe on that street. They behave with such impunity. Anyone who attacks a 60 year old woman who abides by all norms of society, would not shy away from killing me.”

Arat, who says she had to leave Istanbul in a hurry, will file criminal complaints, through her lawyer, with the prosecutor’s office for public nuisance, sexual harassment, intimidation, using threats and intimidation to intervene in others’ way of life.