An Istanbul memorial will be held for our Boysan Yakar, Mert Serçe, and Zeliş Deniz who we lost in a traffic accident.
Lambdaistanbul LGBTI made a call to Istanbul’s LGBTI organizations and activists to visit Boysan Yakar and Zeliş Deniz at their gravesites on 13-14 September and food will be distributed after.
The memorial program will begin at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery at 14:00 on Sunday, 13 September at Boysan’s grave. After the one hour memorial, Şişli Municipality buses will take participants to the Yeni Kanarya Cemetery to commemorate Zeliş Deniz at 15:00. The first day of the memorial will end with a visit to Zeliş Deniz’s family.
On Monday, 14 September at 18:30, participants will meet at Boysan Yakar’s home and go to Zeliş Deniz’s mother’s house for dinner. On the same day at 20:00, Şişli Municipality will distribute food to those in need at Elmadağ Park and Şişli Merkez Neighborhood Park in memory of Boysan, Zeliş, and Mert. At 21:30, Ayşe Tükrükçü from the Istanbul Initiative “Çorbada Tuzun Olsun” that serves soup to the homeless will distribute soup and helva, prepared after a person’s passing, in memory of Boysan, Zeliş, and Mert.
LGBTI activists Boysan Yakar and Zeliş Deniz lost their lives in a traffic accident in Çanakkale, in western Turkey.
Source: Kaos GL, “Boysan Yakar ve Zeliş Deniz’i kaybettik”, (“We have lost Boysan Yakar and Zeliş Deniz”), kaosGL.org, 6 September 2015, http://kaosgl.org/anasayfa.php
5 people lost their lives and 1 critically wounded in a 3-car-collision in Çanakkale province’s Gelibolu district.
According to Hürriyet daily, the identities of the 5 people who lost their lives in the tragic accident were confirmed in Gelibolu State Hospital. The accident took place in the Gelibolu district’s Bolayır area on the Çanakkale-Istanbul highway.
Kemal Tahiroğlu (52) survived the accident but is critically wounded and getting treatment in the intensive care unit of the Çanakkale State Hospital. Tahiroğlu was driving the car with license plate 06 DD 9736 in which two people lost their lives. They are Ali Çiftçi (37) and Sadık Toker (43).
Boysan Yakar, LGBTI activist and Advisor to the Şişli Mayor, was driving car with license plate 34 BS 9699. The identities of the three people who lost their lives are Boysan Yakar (31), feminist and LGBTI activist Zeliş Deniz (33) and Mert Serçe (27).
As Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey, we wish our condolences for the whole LGBTI community, Yakar and Deniz’s friends and family.
“We are here today to make a complaint against the Governor of Istanbul, Minister of Interior Affairs, General Chief of the Police in Istanbul and Istanbul police who attacked the protestors at the gay pride on 28th of June”, says lawyer and LGBTI rights advocate Yasemin Öz. Behind her looms the giant complex of the Caglayan Justice Palace. Though LGBTI activists doubt that the perpetrators of the violence against Istanbul Pride will be brought to justice, they vow to use every legal mechanism at their disposal.
Pride is a special day for Turkey’s LGBTI, who regularly face discrimination in all aspects of social life, if they are not already victims of hate crimes. University student and drag queer Madır Öktiş says, “Pride is the day I can express my pride with almost a hundred thousand people like me and it’s the only day I can, you know, I can feel that solidarity, that strong”.
Madır was getting ready to join the parade when they heard that police attacked pride-goers. They wore a pom pom hat and a hundred per cent gorgeous t-shit and “A police officer told me that I could not walk in with that outfit”.
Until this year, twelve Istanbul Pride Parades passed without incident. LGBTI activist and academic Volkan Yilmaz says, “I wasn’t expecting any attacks on Sunday because even after Gezi protests we could make the march happen so after the attacks, actually, I was a bit surprised and I started to think about why it happened now and it turned out to be that it’s about Ramadan month”.
Last year’s Pride also coincided with the month of Ramadan when an estimated ninety thousand people marched without police interference. But this year, there was a significant rise in the visibility of the LGBTI rights movement and a corollary increase in hate speech from both public officials and conservative media.
Veteran activist Şevval Kılıç says, “this is a big step, that we are threatening the system, we are a movement, a big huge movement, and of course some people are afraid of this, some people are afraid of changing, going forward”.
Volkan thinks the attacks may have happened “because of media provocations and the new governor of Istanbul is a bit more conservative than the other guy and this happened this year”.
At least 78 people were wounded in the police intervention against Pride. One person is in risk of losing an eye. The Governor stated that proportionate force was used against the demonstrators after they refused to disperse.
Boysan Yakar, a prominent LGBTI activist and advisor to Sisli Municipality Mayor, was among the wounded and filed a criminal complaint for battery charges. He says, “I was beaten by the police while I was trying to stop the violence of power at the very first beginning of the pride parade and at that moment we had the support of the MPs from two different parties, HDP and CHP, and when we were trying to stop the violence, police attacked many activists”.
Şevval takes issue with the Governor’s statement of proportionality. She says, “they just directly attacked us with plastic bullets, you know, there are thousands of ways that you can dismiss the crowd but they choose to attack us with plastic bullets”.
So far, 4 LGBTI associations and 68 individuals filed criminal complaints. They are filing criminal charges (PDF-Turkish) against Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk, Istanbul Governor Vasıp Şahin, Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok, and police officers involved in the attacks for the following crimes:
Offenses of Bodily Harm (Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Articles 86-87)
Torture (TCK Articles 94-95)
Torment (TCK Article 96)
Violence (TCK Article 108)
Exceeding the Limits of Authorization for Use of Force (TCK Article 256)
Misconduct in Office (TCK Article 257)
Executing Illegal Mandatory Provision and Order of the Supervisor (TCK Article 24)
Restriction of freedom of belief, conception, conviction (TCK Article 115)
Restriction of Right to Meetings and Demonstration Marches (Law No: 2911)
Offenses against Freedom (TCK Article 109)
As one of the seven lawyers submitting the complaints, Yasemin Öz says, “I’m not hopeful about the Turkish state’s courts, especially when it comes to the ministers, police chiefs, and governors but we are hopeful about the constitutional court or otherwise the European Court of Human Rights”
But despite the lack of trust in the Turkish judicial system, Volkan Yılmaz says, “We have to do it to push the legal process a bit further”.
There was global outcry against the banning of Istanbul Pride and the violence that ensued. Boysan appreciates the global support and says, “It’s great to see that thousands of people are protesting right now throughout the country, from Korea, from Japan till the United Kingdom and United States as well and this is not only happening in the level of citizens. This is happening in the very high levels as well. Government to government it’s happening right now. It’s so important. And it’s great to see such solidarity throughout the universe”.
Yasemin calls for continued support for LGBTI in Turkey and the world. “We want the world to know that our basic right to free assembly has been violated by our own state so as the LGBT people and their friends, we have to unite where there is a violence against LGBT people because no state volunteers to protect LGBT rights. Many states in the world criminalize homosexuality and transsexuality”.
Tired but determined, Boysan says, “We are here, we exist, and they have to get over it”. This is how everyone, gathered in front of the Caglayan Justice Palace to seek justice, feels. They chant, “Gays will not be silent, they will not be silent, will not be silent”.
Şişli Municipality Mayor’s Advisor Boysan Yakar has been accepted to an exchange program with two LGBTI organizations in the USA. Yakar talked to kaosGL.org about the exchange program, his work in the municipality, and the place of LGBTIs in politics.
Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Şişli Belediye Başkanı Danışmanı ABD’de LGBTİ örgütlerinde çalışacak”, (“Advisor to the Şişli Mayor to Work with LGBTI organizations in the USA”), kaosGL.org, 27 April 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19269
Boysan Yakar, Advisor to the Şişli Municipality Mayor, has been accepted to the Professional Fellows Program with a scholarship to observe the legislative process in the US. Throughout the month of May, Yakar will work with two LGBTI organizations that operate on a national and international level. He will also participate in a candidacy training program for LGBTIs who are considering participating in politics.
“It is important to adopt these efforts for our own local conditions through the Şişli Municipality.”
Q: You will work with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Victory Institute for two weeks each as part of the exchange program. The HRC is known for its work on marriage equality, while the Victory Institute works for the emergence of LGBT leaders. What excites you about working with these two institutions?
The LGBTI rights movement has made significant and irreversible gains with the Obama administration in particular. The HRC works for LGBTIs’ right to marry and for the right to equal services in municipalities on both the federal and state levels. The Victory Institute campaigns for LGBTI and allied representatives in several state elections. It is important to hear about their experiences as part of this process and to discover ways to exert pressure.
I aim to learn about their past campaigns while I am in the US. I also want to work on figuring out what kind of alliances we can build with Turkey’s LGBTI movement. What excites me the most is the chance to observe districts and municipalities in Washington D.C. that work for LGBTIs, immigrants, women, and other minorities. It is important to adopt these efforts for our own local conditions through the Şişli Municipality.
I have seen the importance of SPoD LGBTI’s “LGBTI-Friendly Municipality” Campaign, where I was also a candidate for the local elections in 2014. It was an important experience to positively use the election atmosphere and the gains of the LGBTI movement with Istanbul’s municipalities. It is clear that the “LGBTI in the Parliament” Campaign will yield even more positive results this year.
LGBTI activist Barış Sulu became a candidate for nomination from the HDP last week in Eskişehir for the general elections. Sulu spoke with kaosGL.org about the political representation of LGBTI people and the [Kurdish peace] resolution process.
Source: Omer Akpinar, “LGBTİ aktivisti HDP’den aday adayı: Çözüm sürecinde LGBTİ’lerle de barışılması gerekiyor” (“LGBTI activist candidate for nomination from HDP: Peace must also be made with the LGBTI in the Resolution Process”), Kaos GL, 2 March 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18855
How did you decide to run for the June 7th general elections?
First of all, I am somebody who thinks that the LGBTI people need to be interested/involved in politics. Boysan Yakar, Sedef Çakmak, and Tuna Şahin’s assuming of municipal positions in the aftermath of local elections made me more hopeful. I thought another step was now needed. Therefore in order for different things to be talked about, subjects must articulate themselves.
Sedef Çakmak, advisor to the mayor of Beşiktaş, and Boysan Yakar, advisor to the mayor of Şişli, are the first openly gay people to advance to these positions. Yakar made news when he was physically assaulted at the municipal building: “No one can kick us, LGBTI individuals, out of the municipality at this point.”
Sedef Çakmak and Boysan Yakar have been involved in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex) struggle for years. I crossed paths with them for the first time before the Pride March in 2013. In the same year, I met with Boysan again; this time through the LGBTI Political Representation and Participation Platform that they launched before the local elections. In the elections, they had already started seeing the benefits of the platform. Boysan was a candidate for nomination as a city councilor for the district of Şişli, and Sedef, for Beşiktaş. Boysan made it to the reserve list and Sedef seemed to have made it all the way to the council, but it fell through, and she currently remains as the first reserve candidate. Throughout this lengthy process, Hayri İnönü, the mayor of Şişli, and Murat Hazinedar, the mayor of Beşiktaş, must have been so pleased with their work that they appointed them as their advisors.
Boysan and Sedef now hold the highest public office held by openly gay individuals in Turkey. This is a big achievement in a country like Turkey, and as they emphasize strongly, it is the result of a long fight for which they made big sacrifices.
It is clear why you would like to be in the political arena. But why did municipal governments and parties want to reach out to the LGBTI movement? Why now and not before?
Sedef Çakmak: Honestly, I believe that it has to do with our determination. We had been thinking genuinely that our party had to adopt LGBTI politics. To speak about CHP in particular, there have been a number of MPs in the recent past who advocated for LGBTI rights. They have paved the way for us. The party was able to think positively about LGBTI candidates thanks to the LGBTI discussions they introduced into the party’s agenda.
Boysan Yakar: There is something that both of us experienced. After our membership to the party went through, they told us about the displeasure of not having had dealt with this subject before.
Sedef Ç.: They said, “We should have come to you, not you to us.”
Boysan Y.: This is how politics works in Turkey: if you’re not there, your rights are not there either.
Led by Istanbul LGBTI, LGBTI organizations have condemned the beating of Boysan Yakar, a consultant to the Mayor of the Şişli Municipality and an LGBTI activist, at the Municipal Building, by persons alleged to be closely associated with Emir Sarıgül (former Şişli Municipality Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül’s son).
“We have viewed the images of Yakar’s beating with sorrow”
The organizations called to mind that for some time in the Şişli Municipality, controlled by the Republican People’s Party, ongoing tension between President Hayri İnönü and Deputy President Emir Sarıgül had reached a threatening level, and that in the end Sarıgül had resigned; and [the organizations] said, “With sorrow we have viewed on a number of news platforms, including the main news bulletins, the images of our friend Boysan Yakar being battered with brute force, beaten by ‘Sarıgül’s Men’ in the Municipal Building after the Şişli Municipal Council [meeting] on 29 September 2014.”
The LGBTI organizations called to reminded as well that they had attentively followed the process that began with the candidacy of LGBTI activists in political parties for membership in the Municipal Assembly in the local elections of 30 March, and noted the following:
“We will continue our fight against violence”
“We condemn and reject all threats to which our friend — who for so many years has engaged in the pursuit of justice, comprehended the Gezi Spirit, and placed this candidacy of his on the agenda — has been exposed while exercising his right to democratic participation and, furthermore, fulfilling his responsibilities; [we condemn and reject] as well as the assault and battery which is a concrete extension of the threats.
“We thoroughly reject violence, no matter whom it comes from; and to the public we respectfully submit that we will continue to fight against hate speech and collective violence to which LGBTI individuals are subjected, and that these and similar acts of bullying will not intimidate any one of us, either individually or collectively.