Figen

Tolga Yalçın On Figen’s Death: What if She Called?

Source: Tolga Yalçın, “Ya aradıysa?”, (“What if she called?”), kaosGL.org, 6 September 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17469

What if she called?

She was my friend. She had told me so. “You are my friend,” she had said. I was interning at [LGBTI association] Kaos. I was excited. A little nervous as well. I had been sent to [LGBTT association] Pink Life, with the words, “Go, have a look, let me know what you find” to follow up on Umut G.’s Case.* (Case? Is that a social service term? Would that make me a case worker? I was actually Umut’s friend) We arranged meetings that lasted hours. She felt helpless. So much so that she was ready to like even the pigeons on that balcony. She was in shock. I am in shock now. The colonel-militarism had abducted her love, we knew this, we knew this, we knew this, but no one would listen. The colonel had abducted her Umut from her, the colonel had abducted the man she loved.

“I love him very much, I cannot bear him gone,” she had told me, on that balcony. She used to smoke long Marlboros. She would offer me those cigarettes of hers’ too. I wouldn’t accept, for she would smoke a lot and I feared that she would run out if I did. I wish now that her pack hadn’t run out. I was hungry then. Unemployed, or at any rate, about to be unemployed in a few months. I was in love, as deeply as she was in love with her Umut. Her lover had been abducted by his colonel father, heterosexism had claimed mine. “You will recover, you are my friend, I am here for you,” she told me then. I had smiled. This woman, who was undergoing great tumult herself, smoking long Marlboros to calm herself, was able to concern herself with my lover. But she was telling me that it would pass, looking at the pigeons. I came to know her then.

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Mehmet Atif Ergun on Figen’s Death: Speaking of Suicide

Source: Mehmet Atif Ergun, “İntiharı konuşmaya dair (Speaking of suicide)”. Lambdaistanbul, August 26, 2014, http://www.lambdaistanbul.org/s/yasam/intihari-konusmaya-dair-mehmet-atif-ergun/

To offer suicide as if it were murder is to disperse and disarm counter-hegemonic discourses inside the one that is infused in violence.

I learned of Figen’s ordeal with police torture through that photograph, where she dared to expose her vulnerability over an Ataturk bust and the arm of a police officer; I learned of her ending her own life through a short yet searing sentence on Twitter. And I have come across an article by Halil Kandok, published both in Kaos GL and in Radikal while jointly translating a news article on her suicide with LGBTI News Turkey. In the article, Kandok asks:

Figen did not commit suicide out of nowhere. She committed suicide because of society’s normative pressures and because the state failed to protect her. That is, she was pushed to suicide, to death. Is this a suicide, or a murder committed by a secret weapon, the weapon of hatred?

What is suicide?  Who commits suicide?  For a nation where life and death are left to chance and violence is part of everyday life, answering these questions may be of significance. From what has been written on Figen’s deed, Figen did not end her life but was murdered. She was helpless and deedless, she was silenced, her existence erased. She was purged from society. Her very last moment was imbued with that “animal fear,” as the poet [Nazım Hikmet, 1961, “Straw-Blond”] says, that was created in her by her murderer, and not of her own thoughts, anxieties, her own self.

Yet, was it not those very soldiers, the ones who “had shoulder helmets on their shoulders but no heads / between their shoulders and their helmets nothing / they even had collars and necks but no heads” nor eyes, the ones “whose deaths are not mourned”, in whom “you could see their fear, animal fear”?  The ones with “arms, swastikas on their arms” –did we not already encounter them in Figen’s photograph?

Suicide is a deed realized by the person doing the deed, a sorts of a last-disobedience. It is an existential show of power: it is the expression of the argument that “my life is mine to take and no one else’s,” that is, of the claim to one’s right to live, through a radical deed. It is one of those moments where one takes away any power that the assailant might have had and where the assailant is left impotent. When we attribute this deed to the person whose aim it was, in the first place, to erase this other, to expunge her very existence from society, are we not participating in the fantasy mounted by that person by way of our framing of the debate and of the tongue?

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Halil Kandok on Figen’s death: “Alert alert, another trans committed suicide”

Source: Halil Kandok, “Dikkat dikkat, bir trans daha intihar etti! (“Alert alert, another trans committed suicide”), Kaos GL, August 25, 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=17383

Is this a suicide, or a hate murder committed with a secret weapon, a weapon of hatred? To remain silent in the face of discrimination is a weapon that kills gay and trans people.

News about trans activist Figen’s suicide dropped on one of the LGBTI news websites. Yes, just the news of it; did we take any other action? Everyone continued with their everyday life. Let alone the heterosexual world, even the LGBTIs did not care. Today I witnessed a speech that fails to act on the discrimination and murders that LGBTIs face. “They should not openly behave in a way to disturb the social order,” it said. This sentence was the expression of the universal approach towards gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. What this conveys is that LGBTIs do not have the right to live as self-defined selves. They can breath only in a manner that will not discomfort the heterosexual world. If they cross those boundaries, they deserve all forms of discrimination and hateful attacks they are subjected to.

Can LGBTIs, who are deprived of their right to life, tolerate this vegetative state, and if so, for how much longer? Always on pins and needles, always the target of lovelessness and hatred, deprived of the right to work, the right to socialize, the right to become part of the social environment… If we are able to live despite homophobia and transphobia, this is a great success. Because LGBTIs are supported neither by the institution of the family, nor by the state, nor by any other unit. No one cares about the LGBTIs who die. For instance, lately, everyone has been taking the ALS ice bucket challenge. Yet, the diversity of sexual orientation and of trans gender identity are not illnesses; they are the dispossession of healthy individuals’ right to life by heterosexism. So, why are people not trying to draw attention to this? Even LGBTIs make themselves shiver with ice water to raise awareness of ALS, yet they remain apathetic to their own sexual identity.

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Trans activist Figen commits suicide

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Trans activist Figen yaşamına son verdi”, (“Trans activist Figen commits suicide”), Kaos GL, August 24, 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17381.

Trans activist had been tortured by the police on a Mersin street in the recent past.

Trans activist Figen, a member of the Mersin 7 Renk [“7 Colors”] LGBT group and formerly on the board of directors of Pembe Hayat, committed suicide today (August 24th) evening by drowning herself in the sea off Mersin.

Trans women, routinely subjected to transphobic violence by both the Turkish police and local gangs, are trying to survive under harsh conditions. A recent escalation in transphobic attacks is destroying their living spaces.

Torture in the middle of the street!

As reported by the media, Figen and other trans women had been tortured in public by the police on July 22. Seated at a bus stop, the women were approached by a group of police officers who yelling, “Get the hell out of here. You are disturbing people in the vicinity”, attacked them with batons and tear gas. They were then taken to the police station by force.

Not only did the police not process them at the station, but their request to file a complaint was also denied. Both Mersin 7 Renk and Pembe Hayat called the police station following the attack. The police lied in order to cover up the event, saying, “There is no report of such an incident. How did you come up with this stuff?”

At the time, Figen was dealing not only with police abuse but also with the loss of her older brother in the Soma mine massacre. She was unable to attend her brother’s funeral due to family pressure.

LGBTI organizations will claim the remains

Officials from Mersin 7 Renk, Pembe Hayat, and Kaos GL are trying to reach her family in order for them to claim the remains. Evren Çakmak from Kaos GL, and Buse Kılıçkaya and Gani Met from Pembe Hayat have arrived in Mersin to claim the remains, in case the family fails to do so themselves.

Chanting “Murderous State” will work only to relieve ourselves

Umut Güner from the Kaos GL provided the following assessment regarding LGBTI suicides:

“It is not just the violence, but the very heterosexist culture and its social structure that renders life unlivable. There is no truth to claims such as ‘I am not homophobic, I am not transphobic!’ Even LGBTIs can be homophobic and transphobic. Projects such as awareness raising campaigns are no longer enough. We have to organize for and build alternative living networks. The ‘Murderous State’ chants will work only to relieve ourselves. I cannot say ‘rest in peace’ to Figen. I witnessed what she lived through over the past two years. She did not live in peace, how is she to rest in peace?”


Having suicidal thoughts? Please, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

To the best of our knowledge, the online and IRL resources below will provide you with a safe and non-judgmental space.

IRC / Chatlines

Hotlines

Sexual Assault Resources

If you know of any other suicide resources where you live or work, please do let us know so that we can add them to our website. To contact us, email us at info@lgbtinewsturkey.com, or see https://lgbtinewsturkey.com/about/.

https://lgbtinewsturkey.com/2015/03/04/suicide-resources/

 

Public Abuse of Trans Individuals by Police

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Mersin’de Polisten Translara Sokakta İşkence!” (“Public Abuse of Trans Individuals by Police!”) KaosGl.org, 22 July 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17153.

 

In Mersin, police officers attacked trans women in public, shouting “Get out of here” and assaulting them with batons.

The violent treatment of trans women by the police has gone unstopped. Citing a misdemeanor law, the police attacked and publicly abused 7 trans women.

Police used tear gas on the trans women while violently attacking them. Among them were activists from the solidarity group, “7 Renk” (“7 Colors”). A 7 Renk activist, Ece Yiğit, recounted the events to KaosGL.org.

Beating for Disturbing the Peace!

“We were hanging out last night on İsmet İnönü Boulevard with the other girls. There were seven of us and we were only chatting. There was also a man next to us sipping beer. Then the police came out of nowhere and said: ‘Get the hell out of here. You are disturbing people in the vicinity.’ Honestly, we did not understand what was going on. We were not making any noise. The man next to us reacted to the police, ‘what is the harm of these people to you? They are just sitting here.’ Police attacked him first with batons. Then, they started pepper spraying us. After we protested, they assaulted us with batons.”

Police denies the events!

The trans women were later taken to the police station. No legal proceedings took place at the station. The police also declined the trans women’s request to file a report. According to the members of the LGBTI solidarity organizations, Mersin 7 Renk and Pembe Hayat (“Pink Life”), police denied the events, claiming: “There is no report of such an incident. How do you come up with this stuff?”

After no legal proceedings took place, the trans women left the station. Now they are demanding that the abuse be investigated through footage to be obtained from the security cameras.

Perpetrators of Hate Murders are unpunished!

A trans woman named Cansu was attacked in Mersin, on May 25th in an attack alluding to Miraç Kandili[1]. In December, a trans sex worker called Deniz was attacked with sticks and knives in Pozcu. Four transphobic hate murders have been committed in Mersin since 2006. However, these murders are not recorded as hate crimes and the perpetrators are not handed down the appropriate sentence.

[1] Lailat al Miraj – A religious day commemorating Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven –trans.