Rights Violations in 2019

President of the Council of Higher Education of Turkey: “The notion of gender does not fit our social values.”

“[The notion of gender] clashes with our social values and approvals”– president of CoHE Turkey, Yekta Saraç.

Source: President of the Council of Higher Education of Turkey: “The notion of gender does not fit our social values.” (YÖK Başkanı: “Toplumsal cinsiyet kavramı toplumsal değerlerimize uygun değil.”) Yolculuk, 17 February 2019 https://gazeteyolculuk.net/yok-baskani-toplumsal-cinsiyet-kavrami-toplumsal-degerlerimize-uygun-degil

The project for Gender Equality, which was sent as the Approach Document* issued to universities by the Council of Higher Education of Turkey (CoHE), has been waived. During his press statement regarding the issue, the President of the CoHE Yekta Saraç stated that “[The notion of gender] clashes with our social values and approvals.”

While the murder case of Özgecan Aslan was still in the headlines, Saraç stressed that the Approach Document was issued and sent to the universities and that it is within the scope of the international agreements for which Turkey is a party. Saraç asserted “the main principles of this document contain points as what can be done regarding the violence and harassment towards women in the Institutions of Higher Education (posters, seminars, conferences, handbooks) and how a safe environment can be achieved in university campuses (transportation control, night lights, increasing the number of dormitories for women, providing relevant education/training to the security and transportation personnel), as well as preparing and providing a compulsory or elective course in this context.”

“[The notion of gender] clashes with our social values and approvals”
During the press statement, Saraç stated “since the Approach Document was issued in 2015, all these actions will be carried out in order to prevent all kinds of inequality and injustice as stated under the term of Gender Equality. However, today it appears that different meanings other than desired have been attributed to the notion of Gender Equality and there is need to consider the fact that these ideas clash with our social values and approvals and they are not accepted by society. In parallel to this, the CoHE have been working for a while in order to make the necessary changes to the Approach Document. As of today, the work regarding updating the Approach Document by removing the notion of ‘gender equality’ from it has reached the final stage and will be announced to our universities soon.”

Saraç added “In this manner, it is required to pay attention to the curricula for women’s studies courses in our universities which should be determined with the understanding of ‘Women’s Studies Based on Justice’, rather than ‘Gender Equality’ and Turkish society’s esteemed values, particularly the notion of family, should be highlighted in the current courses, seminars, and conferences.”

 

  • Translators note: This document was issued within the scope of the international agreements (CEDAW and Istanbul Convention) and the relevant Articles of the Turkish Constitution. According to the document, the Council of Higher Education promises to act as being aware of gender equality and lists the actions to be carried out in the universities and institutions in order to prevent gender inequality and injustice.

In Solitary Confinement For The Past Five Years And In Prison For Twenty-Four Years Buse Is Deprived Of Her Right To Surgery

Buse Aydın has been in prison for twenty-four years, has been kept in solitary confinement for the past five years and is not allowed to undergo gender transition surgery.

Source: “In solitary confinement for the past five years and in prison for twenty-four years Buse is deprived of her right to surgery!”, (Son 5 yılı tecritte 24 yıldır cezaevinde olan trans mahkum Buse’nin ameliyat hakkı elinden alındı!), gorulmustur.org, February 7, 2019, http://gorulmustur.org/icerik/son-5-yili-tecritte-24-yildir-cezaevinde-olan-trans-mahkum-busenin-ameliyat-hakki-elinden

Buse Aydın is a trans prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment. She has been in prison for twenty-four years. Even though she is trans, she is kept prisoner in Tekirdağ Men’s Prison. She has been in solitary confinement for the past five years because she is trans and on the grounds that the prison cannot “ensure her safety.”

Buse has been in solitary confinement for the past five years at Tekirdağ prison deprived of all her social rights and has been in prison for twenty-four years. Buse’s friend, Diren Çoşkun, spoke with us about Buse’s condition and said that she is deprived of all social rights and is not allowed to see the other prisoners for “security” reasons.

The right to surgery not granted

Buse Aydın wrote a petition for her gender transition surgery 2,5 years ago to the Ministry of Justice. She received reports from the Training and Research Hospital and from the Forensic Medicine Institute stating, “gender transition is necessary for her mental health.” However, even though there are two reports from two different government agencies, the prosecution wrote to the Ministry of Justice questioning whether the surgery is a gender transition surgery, ignoring the previous decisions and sending the file back to the Forensic Medicine Institute.

Buse Aydın is not provided with the essential needs that correspond with her gender identity on the grounds that she has a blue [ie male] national identity card.

A second decision from FMI

Upon the Ministry of Justice sending the file back to FMI (Forensic Medicine Institute) and asking whether this surgery was “vital”, even though before FMI had stated that “gender transition surgery is necessary for Buse Aydın’s mental health”, they said, “it is not vital.”

“There are no photos of Buse”

Buse’s friend and trans woman Diren Çoşkun, who shared the same cell with Buse Aydın for some time, said that after she ended her own hunger strike, Buse too started a hunger strike for her right to surgery, but that then she had to stop. Buse Aydın has been in prison for twenty-four years and right now she is forced to stay in a single cell in a men’s prison.

Çoşkun said Buse’s only wish is to have her gender transition surgery and to be transferred to a women’s prison. She has been in solitary confinement for the past five years and she might be in prison for at least another fifteen years. Attorney Hatice Demir of SPOD, the LGBTI organization said: “You haven’t seen Buse. There are no photos of her in social media. You do not know her. We don’t know her voice or her laughter…We haven’t come face to face with her. This is why it is even harder to have her voice be heard, this is why her voice is not amplified…Buse only wants the court’s decision to be implemented. She wants justice! Please be her voice, please hear her…”

Buse Aydın’s friends have been using the hashtags #BuseninSesiOlalım, #BuseyeSesVer for her voice be heard.

“Homosexuality is not a crime, no one can be accused of being homosexual”

Source: “Homosexuality is not a crime, no one can be accused of being homosexual” (Aslı Alpar, “Eşcinsellik suç değil, kişi eşcinsellikle suçlanamaz”) KaosGL, 30 January 2019 http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27480

Why has the newspaper Hürriyet published an article including discriminatory language? An article entitled “Breaking news regarding the decision in the case of the garbage truck driver who has been accused of having a homosexual relationship” is misleading and sensational.

Today, the newspaper Hürriyet has published a news item under the headline “Breaking News Regarding The Decision In The Case Of the Garbage Truck Driver Who Has Been Accused of Having A Homosexual Relationship”.

This news piece, signed by Dinçer Gökçe, announces the result of the reemployment lawsuit that the garbage truck driver R.S. filed against the Kağıthane Municipality because the Municipality fired him without paying any severance pay due to a “homosexual relationship”, which was also reported by the newspaper Hürriyet in July.

The news announces that the 34th Labour Court of İstanbul  enforced the re-employment of R.S. whom Kağıthane Municipality fired without paying any severance pay due to a “homosexual relationship”. The news was presented with a blurred picture of a garbage truck and two men standing side by side. The news does not mention that the workers the legal right-to-work was violated or that it cannot be a concern for Kağıthane Municipality if they were accused of having “homosexual relationship” out of working hours.

The newspaper first published the news relating to Kağıthane Municipality’s violation to the right of privacy and the right to work of the labourers, with the headline “the homosexual relationship of the garbage truck drivers caused trouble in the Municipality”

Lawyer Kerem Dikmen: “Since homosexuality is not a crime, no one can be accused of homosexuality”

Kaos GL Association Legal Coordinator Lawyer Kerem Dikmen assessed the Hürriyet news story for KaosGL.org. Lawyer Dikmen notes that the statement as “accused of homosexuality” which is stated at the headline of the news is wrong:

“Crime is a definition used for actions for which the Criminal Code requires enforcement. Therefore, there cannot be a case where a person is accused of homosexuality, because homosexuality which is a sexual orientation is not a crime. Of course, Hürriyet reporters know it is not a crime; however, you can clearly see the homophobic attitude here.

“Scandal” is a violation to the right of privacy and the right to work!

Is the decision really “breaking news”?

Lawyer Dikmen interprets the statement of “Breaking News Regarding The Decision” as:

“When ‘breaking news regarding the decision’ is stated, you think of a situation which is not expected, should not be expected after the court’s judgment and for this reason is shocking. If a person is fired because of his/her sexual orientation, the breaking news is the decision on not being re-employed; it is not the decision on being re-employed. The fact that a homosexual person works in a workplace and a judicial intervention prevents him/her being fired while working are clearly being pushed out of the realm of the ordinary here and it is implied that the ordinary situation is that a homosexual person does not work in a workplace or the court does not decide on reemployment after s/he is fired. Moreover, the statement as ‘a claim of homosexual relationship of 4 people’ develops the perception of homosexuality as a crime.”

Trans woman prisoner Buse is on hunger strike again

Lawyer Eren Keskin has announced via her social media account that trans woman prisoner Buse resumed her  hunger strike on January 31st.

Source: Trans Woman Prisoner Buse is on hunger strike again (Trans mahpus Buse tekrar ölüm orucunda) February 13, 2019 http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler/detay/2065/trans-mahpus-buse-tekrar-olum-orucunda

Prisoner and trans woman Buse, who was given a life sentence and is currently kept in Tekirdağ Prison, began a hunger strike in June last year because her access to  healthcare had been denied. When Buse’s lawyer Eren Keskin announced via her social media accounts that Buse began a hunger strike, she added “Trans woman Buse who is in Tekirdağ Prison has been on hunger strike for 21 days since her gender transition surgery is not being performed. She is asking for awareness.”

Buse, who started a hunger strike due to the fact that her gender reassignment surgery is not being performed, paused her resistance on the 38th day of her hunger strike, with support from outside the prison.

On hunger strike again
According to the social media post of Lawyer Eren Keskin via her Twitter account, trans woman prisoner Buse resumed the hunger strike on January 31st, because the Ministry of Health has prevented her access to adequate healthcare .

“I want to be set free from the prison in my body.”
Lawyer Eren Keskin, who had previously made a statement to a Pink Life Association reporter about the case process of trans woman prisoner Diren Coşkun, who undertook a hunger strike in past months in order to have her demands met, also made a statement about the process of Buse’s case. Diren Coşkun and Buse were previously in the same prison wing.

Keskin told Buse that she can file for a retrial since there were no lawyers present throughout her trial. As a response to this Buse said “I want to be set free from the prison of my body”.

23 years in prison
Derya Özata of Kadınlarla Dayanışma Vakfı (Women’s Solidarity Foundation), whom KaosGL.org contacted in relation to the infringements Buse has faced, stated that Buse has been kept in the prison for 23 years. She was given a life sentence, and has the report for the gender transition surgery, but the operation has yet to be performed . Özata also indicated that Buse said to the lawyer who visited  her that “I want to see my body as a woman’s body. I do not want to live in this body anymore. It is not even certain how long I will live, or whether I will ever come out of the prison.”

 

Parliamentary Question by HDP about Buse, a Trans Woman Prisoner

HDP Ankara Representative Filiz Kerestecioğlu proposed a parliamentary question about Buse, a trans woman and prisoner, who is not being referred to a hospital for her sex reassignment surgery.

Source: “Parliamentary Question by HDP about Buse, a Trans Woman Prisoner” (HDP’den trans kadın mahpus Buse için soru önergesi) February 6, 2019 http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27537 

Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Ankara representative of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), proposed a parliamentary question concerning the obstruction of a sex reassignment surgery for Buse, who is a trans woman and prisoner, by the Ministry of Justice despite a court verdict deeming reassignment operations to be mandatory with regards to the mental health of the individual. HDP requested that Abdülhamit Gül, the Minister of Justice, respond.

“Do you think that the verdict by the Ministry which does not allow the surgery to be performed violates the prisoner’s right to healthcare?”

Kerestecioğlu posed the following questions to Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül:

Prisoner and trans woman Buse, who is currently serving time at Tekirdağ No. 2 F-type Men’s Prison, filed a suit approximately two and a half years ago in order to be able to undergo sex reassignment surgery. The court delivered a favorable verdict with “permission for surgery,” establishing that the operation was mandatory with regards to the mental health of the individual.

This verdict notwithstanding, the Ministry of Justice has not yet carried out her referral to a hospital and has been standing in the way of her surgery on the grounds that ‘the operation is mandatory but not urgent.’

As a trans woman, Buse is incarcerated at a men’s prison, as she has yet to have her sex reassignment surgery. For the past five  years, she has been held in solitary confinement.

She cannot benefit from access to such things as yard time and other social activities on account of the insufficient number of personnel. She is not permitted to socialize with the other prisoners on the grounds that “her safety cannot be guaranteed.”

The fact that Buse’s demand has been rejected with the explanation that “she can have the surgery once she is released” has no legal basis whatsoever, since it is clear that she will not be released from prison for at least another 15 years. This rejection also goes to show that the Ministry approves of continuing to hold her in solitary confinement as well as allowing her exposure to discriminatory practices. Buse’s only demand is to have surgeries, and to be transferred to a women’s prison afterwards.

In this regard,

  1. Do you think that the verdict reached by the Ministry not allowing the surgery to be performed violates the prisoner’s right to healthcare?
  2. What is the motive behind the Ministry’s re-request for opinion from the Institute of Forensic Sciences, despite the fact that the court has already delivered a verdict?
  3. When it comes to a surgery other than a sex reassignment surgery, is it a routine practice to re-request an opinion despite the court verdict?
  4. Do you consider it an act of discrimination when a prisoner cannot benefit from such things as yard time and other social activities on account of the insufficient number of personnel or when a prisoner is not permitted to socialize with the other prisoners on the grounds that “her safety cannot be guaranteed?”
  5. What kind of measures are being taken by the Ministry so as to prevent LGBTI+ prisoners from being exposed to discrimination?