Rights Violations in 2018

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.