Çiçek Tahaoğlu

Kemal Ordek on Bianet: “I’ve been trying to prove that I was raped for 2 years and 7 court hearings”

Kemal Ordek on rape, law and activism nearly two years after being assaulted in their home. The interview with Bianet was published a day before the court ruled on the case of sexual assault. Ordek claimed that one of the assailants in the attack on their home had also raped them. On May 24, the court ruled that there was no sexual assault. All three defendants were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison for attempting to plunder.

Source: Çicek Tahaoglu, “Tam 2 Senedir, 7 Duruşmadır Tecavüze Uğradığımı Kanıtlamaya Çalışıyorum,” bianet, 23 May 2017, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/186721-tam-2-senedir-7-durusmadir-tecavuze-ugradigimi-kanitlamaya-calisiyorum

The final verdict will be given on the president of Red Umbrella Association, Kemal Ordek’s case, on May 24.

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Kemal Ordek, a sex worker, a defender of sex workers’ rights for many years, was attacked at home by three people in 2015. One of the attackers seized Ordek’s mobile phone, also sexually abused them. Then they took Ordek to an ATM to take money from his account. Ordek saw a police patrol car at that moment, and managed to escape from the attackers.

Three days later, when we talked to Ordek, they were explaining in fear and anger how the attackers threatened him at the police station by saying, “We know where you live, we will be released anyway, think about it,” and what kind of dialogues were between police officers and attackers, “Don’t waste us for this poof, we understand each other right, my brother?”

That night, the attackers were released. They continued to disturb Ordek via phone for a while. And a nonsuit motion was granted for police officers who tried to argue Ordek out of their criminal complaint and were making Ordek wait and sit with the attackers in the same car and saying “the people of lut are still alive”.

Ordek, as an experienced human rights defender, pursued the violation that they were subject to at this time. Lawsuits were brought against three attackers, two of them were charged with robbery, threatening, and limiting a person’s freedom, the third was charged additionally with major sexual assault, and they were arrested.

Following the decision of the local court, prosecutor Turkay Turkler appealed the sexual assault verdict with the allegations of non-existence of “an evidence above suspicion, complete, certain and credible”.

On May 24 at 14.00, the trial will resume in Ankara for a summary judgment. Before the trial, we met Ordek and discussed the court’s approach to the sexual assaults, the consent issue and the vague borders of “activist Kemal and victim Kemal.”

“There wasn’t a discussion on consent, it was very important that the penalty was imposed according to the testimony”

Your lawyers described the fact that one of the attackers was punished for sexual assault as “leading case.” Could you explain the reason?

This was a leading case because it reflected the things we wanted to say as activists. In the legal struggle following the things I experienced, the concept of consent wasn’t questioned at court, and verdict was given according to the testimony. The court committee said “there is a sexual assault, it is a major sexual assault, there is a limitation on a person’s freedom, and there are crimes like threatening and insulting,” in consensus and approved a punishment that wasn’t requested, or predicted by the prosecutor.

From these points, it’s a leading case, but it ignored the robbery, which was lacking. Also, they didn’t issue an arrest warrant until the last hearing.

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LGBTI Activist Kemal Ordek’s Attacker Convicted

A landmark decision has been issued about the three aggressors who attacked Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President Kemal Ördek. One of the attackers was sent to prison following the hearing after being charged with qualified sexual assault. 

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “LGBTİ Aktivistine Cinsel Saldırı Davasında Saldırgan Tutuklandı”, Bianet, 17 November 2016, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/180825-lgbti-aktivistine-cinsel-saldiri-davasinda-saldirgan-tutuklandi

Two people who attacked Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President and LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek have been sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and a judicial fine on charges of robbery, threat and insult. The third attacker has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for qualified sexual assault in addition to the aforementioned crimes and sent to prison.

Evaluating the decision to bianet, attorney Deniz Aksoy said “Because the victim’s identity as a sex worker was taken as a basis, this penalty imposed on the ground of sexual assault will be seen as a precedent.”

What had happened?

LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was sexually assaulted in their house in Ankara on 5 July 2015. The police allegedly said  “Enough with this Tribe of Lot” and the suspects said “Officer, we’re manly men. You understand us, don’t you? Don’t listen to what this faggot has to say.”

Following the assault Nils Muiznieks, the European Council Human Rights Commissioner made a written statement regarding the incident and called on the authorities to explicitly declare that they would not tolerate hate speech and crimes against LGBTI persons.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul MP Mahmut Tanal, CHP Malatya MP Veli Ağbaba and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul MP Garo Paylan had brought the issue to the Parliament and asked the Minister for Interior Affairs Sebahattin Öztürk about the assault and what had happened afterwards.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville made a statement regarding the assault of Ördek, reminding  Turkey the commitment it has made for LGBTI persons during the Universal Periodic Review and called on the authorities to take measures for the fight against homophobic, transphobic violence and discrimination.

“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.

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. 

Lesbian Dating Site Banned Over “Obscenity” Back Online

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Lesbian Dating Site Banned Over ‘Obscenity’ Back Online”, bianet, 17 November 2015, http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/169339-lesbian-dating-site-banned-over-obscenity-back-online

The administrative measure against lesbian dating site www.lezce.com, blocked over “obscenity”, has been lifted a few hours after the incident took place.

Web administrator Erman Paçalı telling the ban has been lifted after the incident took place and was in the media, said the following:

“They shut down the website and lifted the ban out of the blue. We haven’t made any change on the website as to the content. We hadn’t managed to contact an authority from TIB despite all our efforts. When we looked at the Presidency of Telecommunication’s (TIB) query panel, the administrative measure appeared on the screen. When we repeated the same query 20 minutes ago, it states there is no decision implemented as to this website.

“The decision to lift the ban hasn’t been issued to all service providers yet, but it will be by the end of the day”.

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What had happened?

Speaking to Bianet, web administrator Erman Paçalı had said that the site doesn’t have any content that could be a subject to blocking, they couldn’t find any addressee regarding the matter, and they will go to court to stop the execution.

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Lesbian Website Blocked over “Obscenity”,” bianet, 17 November 2015, http://bianet.org/english/lgbti/169329-lesbian-website-blocked-over-obscenity

Turkey’s only lesbian dating website, http://www.lezce.com*, has been banned for “obscenity”.

“Since obscenity can’t be determined by looking at a user name and password page on our home page, it has obviously been aroused by the name ‘lezce’. We are face to face with an administration that is aroused by letters. These practices encourage homophobia by state itself”, said the administrator of the webpage that operates on a membership system.

Lezce.com content advisor and administrator Erman Paçalı speaking to Bianet said they couldn’t find any addressee relating to the blocking decision and that they will file a complaint with the administrative court to grant a motion for stay of execution.

“We’ve sent our petition to the Presidency of Telecommunication (TIB) but it is unclear when they will respond since there is no law imposing a time limit on TIB. TIB experts conveyed via central office that they won’t contact us directly. We can’t find any addressee. It is not clear what is obscene in the content and what sort of evaluation they made.

“This decision violates the principle of equality. We will go to the district administrative court to stop the execution. We want a verbal hearing because we want to express ourselves”.  

TIB doesn’t inform

Paçalı said they have tried to contact TIB but they couldn’t receive any information regarding even the grounds of the decision.

“Whenever we wish to contact the institution, they express that there is prime ministerial circular stating experts cannot be met with. Thus, as far as we understand there is a circular allowing them to not meet with anyone if they wish to do so.”

Paçalı added that TIB has taken the decision based on “reasonable doubt” and “in order to constitute reasonable doubt, there must be content in line with that. However, our home page doesn’t have any content except for username and password panel, and TIB doesn’t present any content as to the ‘doubt’”.

* Lez is shortened for lezbiyen, which means lesbian, and Lezce stands for Lezbiyence, which means lesbianish.

 

Cyber-attack against Istanbul LGBTI’s Website

The website of Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association was hacked. Kıvılcım Arat from the Association said “LGBTIs used not to be perceived as a threat. Attacks increased as they became the subject of/in politics.”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “İstanbul LGBTİ’nin Web Sitesine Siber Saldırı” (“Cyber Attack against Istanbul LGBTT’s Website”), bianet, 6 July 2015,  http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/165826-istanbul-lgbti-nin-web-sitesine-siber-saldiri

The website of Istanbul LGBTI [LGBTT] Solidarity Association was hacked by a group called “Armania”.

510Hackers changed the first news heading of the website to “WE ARE SONS OF BITCHES YEAHH”. The website at http://istanbul-lgbtt.net is still accessible but news items display an error.

Istanbul LGBTI’s Kıvılcım Arat reported that “As it turns out, they had found a vulnerability in the website a while ago but waited for a controversy before hacking it. They took advantage of the order of the day where the police attacks the Pride Parade and LGBTIs continue to be targeted [for violence] and posted their messages to the website.”

Kaos GL’s website was targeted with a DDoS attack simultaneously with the police attack against the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade on June 28th.

Arat, who reported that online attacks against LGBTIs are increasing in addition to the already widespread physical and verbal assaults, expressed that the reason for the increase in attacks is the visibility of the LGBTI and LGBTI’s presence in the political arena:

LGBTIs used not to be perceived as a threat; we were seen as a group that keeps their head down at all times. But this perception dissipated after Gezi. A certain discomfort emerged from LGBTIs’ becoming political subjects in the last election process and their solidarity around the slogan ‘We will not let you become the President’.

It was indeed not Ramadan but the discomfort of the election process that lead to the attacks during the Pride Parade, which has been organized for 13 years. After all, a week ago and again during Ramadan, the 6th Trans Pride Parade was organized on the same street.

A message of ‘you better tread lightly, not get into politics, withdraw into your shell’ is being given with these target-ful statements, news articles, and assaults. Because Turkey’s LGBTI movement is one of the most political ones in Turkey. It seems that attacks will continue, unfortunately.

Cyber-attack against Kaos GL on Pride Day

Tar: “That the cyber attack was deployed simultaneously with the [police] intervention to the Pride is of great significance. That a cyber attack is deployed while LGBTIs who exclaimed ‘homosexuals will not remain silent’ on the streets were assaulted with tear gas means that there is a [coordinated] effort to silence LGBTIs.”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Onur Gününde KaosGL’ye Siber Saldırı” (“Cyberattack against Kaos GL on Pride Day”), bianet, 29 June 2015, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/165656-onur-gununde-kaosgl-ye-siber-saldiri

Kaos GL was inaccessible for hours on 28 June due to a DDoS attack while police assaults continued on Istiklal Street.

Kaos GL’s editor Yıldız Tar spoke to bianet and, drawing attention to the simultaneous attacks on the streets by the police and cyber attacks online, expressed that the attack against LGBTIs’ news website is a planned assault on the freedom of speech and the right to be informed:

Yesterday, our Kaos GL website was targeted at the very moment police assaults began against the Pride Parade. The attack continued for a long time, preventing access to the website. At first we thought this to be a technical problem but out communications uncovered this to be an attack.

That the cyber attack was deployed simultaneously with the [police] intervention to the Pride is of great significance. That a cyber attack is deployed while LGBTIs who exclaimed ‘homosexuals will not remain silent’ on the streets were assaulted with tear gas means that there is a [coordinated] effort to silence LGBTIs.

Our website was unable to recover until late last night. This prevented us from communicating rights violations. We experienced violence on the streets as well as intervention with our right to speech.

We do not know who the assailants were, but we witnessed tweets pointing Kaos GL as a target and claiming ‘this is how we silence you’ Naturally, we have documented each of these instances.

We believe that this was a concerted attack. They tried to silence us and failed. Just as the rainbow flag was flying over everywhere yesterday, Kaos GL too continues its broadcast.

What is a DDoS attack?

DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) is an attack where a server receives considerable amounts of requests by many computers simultaneously to the point of inoperability. It does not [necessarily] mean that the server in question was breached.