hate crimes in turkey

32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Appeared in the Press in 2015

According to Kaos GL’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Observation Report, in the year 2015 there were 5 hate crime-murders, 32 hate crimes, 2 cyber-attacks and 3 suicides appeared in the press.

Source: Kaos GL, “2015’te LGBTİ’lere yönelik 32 nefret saldırısı basına yansıdı!” (“32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Reflected in the Press in 2015”), kaosgl.org, May 25 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21730

The Kaos GL Association has published its 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Observation Report. The report, which the association has published regularly since 2006 to monitor the human rights violations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, contains striking conclusions about this past year.

5 hate crime-murders, 32 attacks!

General findings are listed in the introduction of the report as follows:

“2015 was a year in which bombs exploded, massacres occurred, systematic attacks were carried out against social groups at the government’s hand, surveillance and detentions were carried out, and the most basic right, the right to life, was not protected. From the perspective of LGBT rights, alongside positive developments it was a year in which generally the routine was not broken;

“Throughout the year of 2015, there were 5 hate crime murders, 32 hate crime attacks (with more than 15 committed by more than one person, 2 at the hands of the police, 12 with a sharp object, 2 with a firearm, and 1 with arson), 2 cyber-attacks, and 3 cases of suicide that were reported to the media;

3 instances of discrimination were reflected in the media. Of these instances, 2 occurred in prison and 1 occurred in the workplace. Out of 9 cases of hate speech, 4 were produced by political figures and 3 appeared in newspapers known to be close to the ruling government.”

Call for killing of LGBTI people

“The societal reflection of hate speech can be [a] hate crime. The attacks by police at the Pride March and ensuing instigation of hate at the hands of politicians turned into a call for murder. A group calling themselves the Young Islamic Defense hung posters on the streets of Ankara calling for the killing of LGBT people.”

Censorship for the internet

“Administrative measures were taken by Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı, or TIB) against 7 LGBT websites. Of these decisions, 1 was lifted by TIB after making its way into the press and another after being appealed to TİB. However, 5 sites still cannot be accessed. In 2 cases students were attacked because of LGBT banners and a rainbow flag at a university. Bafra Penitentiary denied prisoners access to Kaos GL publications on the grounds of its “obscene” content.”

“The police attacked the Pride March with plastic bullets, teargas, and water cannons; a number of people were injured.”

“The Constitutional Court identified the state’s official relationship format by using the expression ‘unnatural relation,’ in clear violation of the Constitution.”

The report only contains cases reflected in the media

While emphasizing that only cases reflected in the media were reported, problems experienced in the reporting process are outlined in the report as follows:

“The violations found in the report are cases reflected in the media only. For this reason this report does not display all of the human rights violations experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey

“We have presented this report as the 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-based Human Rights Violation Observation Report. However, our struggle continues in reaching the problems of gay and bisexual women and the discrimination and human rights violations suffered by transgender men.”

The report contains separate sections on ‘hate crimes and violations of the right to life,’ ‘discrimination and hate speech,’ ‘freedom of expression,’ and ‘lawsuits taking place and ending in 2015.’ Violations reflected in the media over the course of a year are listed.

What should be done?

The conclusion of the report lists the necessary steps for getting ahead of human rights violations as follows:

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals should be granted equal civil rights in the Constitution and “sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status”(CYCKİD) should be protected categories in the Constitution’s discrimination article
  • Adjustments should be made to the Turkey Human Rights and Equality Foundation Law to include protections for CYCKİD; the law should be rewritten to take into account Civil Society recommendations about the impartiality of the foundation
  • LGBTI people should be included in public social policy
  • Effective campaigns should be led against the homophobic and transphobic hate speech of politicians, public authorities, and opinion leaders
  • All relevant public institutions, especially the Directorate General of Migration Management, should develop sensitivity towards and policies related to the various problems of LGBTI refugees
  • The Turkey Human Rights and Equality Foundation and the Ombudsman Institution should handle all violations of human rights, democracy, and law that come under its jurisdiction with an approach based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Clauses on sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to articles regulating discrimination law in the judicial system
  • Regulation regarding hate crimes should be expanded to cover basic rights such as the right to life, bodily integrity, education, and shelter alongside hate speech, and clauses on CYCKİD should be included in hate crime regulation. The necessary punitive measures should be taken for hate crimes directed at LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) individuals; modifications in the law should be made to prevent reduced sentences for “grievous provocation” following hate crimes
  • Ambiguous phrases such as “general morality,” “public decency,” “obscenity,” “immodesty,” and “infamous crimes” used in the Turkish Republic Constitution, the Turkish Penal Code, Civil Code, Law of Misdemeanor and various other foundations and institutions should be taken out of regulation or readjusted in a way that cannot be interpreted as against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people.
  • Turkey should immediately take all necessary legal and political steps to fully comply with the 2010 Combating Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Recommendations from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which Turkey was a founding member
  • In the investigation and prosecution stages following rights violations such as hate crimes, discrimination, and police violence suffered by LGBTI people, precautions should be taken to eliminate the discriminatory and/or prejudiced attitudes of law enforcement officers and forensic units, which heighten the victims’ suffering
  • The classification of homosexuality and transsexualism in the Turkish Armed Forces Health Code as “sexual identity and behavior disorders” and practices suffered by homosexual, bisexual, or transgender individuals that damage their honor and dignity should be eliminated
  • The Turkish Armed Forces Discipline Code, which punishes homosexuality by stigmatizing it as an “unnatural relation” and leaves the homosexual officers in question to fall victim to discrimination in the workplace and lose their jobs, should change and homosexuality should no longer be considered a crime.
  • The government should regulate CYCKİD discrimination in work life. Regulations directed at LGBT workers should be made in job announcements, hiring, continued work relationships, and termination. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status should become protected categories under the discrimination article in the Labor Law
  • Societal and institutional educational programs to eliminate the rights violations experienced by LGBTI people in education, employment, and health in the public sector and private institutions, as well as in access to services, should be applied and followed as a positive obligation of the state.
  • On every subject relevant to human rights and especially when making changes related to the prevention of discrimination, opinions from the United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union, and related units should be taken into account. Human rights organization, organizations that work in the field of women’s human rights, and LGBTI organizations should work in collaboration to accomplish all of these endeavors.
  • Statistical studies to aid in bringing discrimination to light should be completed.
  • To ensure fair trials, human rights education based on homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination should be designed for law enforcement officers and members of the judicial branch. This education should be carried out in collaboration with civil society organizations.
  • Prison schemes should be designed with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity; an end should be put to isolation.
  • Pursuant to all of these endeavors, dialogue and collaboration should be established between LGBTI organizations and public establishments and Parliament.

Access report here [Turkish]

Transphobic Murder in Çorlu

In Çorlu, offender F.T. stabbed and killed Aleda, a trans sex worker with whom he engaged in a fight. F.T. admitted the murder in the cab he took.

Source: “Çorlu’da Transfobik Nefret Cinayeti” (“Transphobic Murder in Çorlu”), Pembe Hayat, 20 March 2016, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1032#.Vu7WLKVvJdk

The transphobic murderer and Aleda started fighting in Aleda’s home for mysterious reasons. Subsequently, he stabbed Aleda and fled the crime scene. He then took a cab, with his clothes covered in blood, and told the driver he killed someone. The driver called the cops as soon as he dropped off F.T. Police found Aleda’s dead body at the address provided by the driver. Aleda’s body was taken to Çorlu State Hospital morgue for autopsy.

Security forces found the murderer F.T. in his home and detained him approximately an hour after the incident. F.T. was taken to  Çorlu Police Station, officials announced that investigation continues.

Transphobic Murder in Istanbul

 

Trans woman Buse lost her life as a result of a hate crime in her home in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district. The district attorney’s examinations of Buse’s home are still underway. Camera footage will be inspected to verify the identity of the attacker.

Source: “İstanbul’da transfobik nefret cinayeti” (“Transphobic Murder in Istanbul”), Kaos GL, 4 March 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=21241

buseistanbul

A trans woman named Buse was found dead in her home in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district.

Buse’s friends, who had not been able to get in touch with her, went to the house Buse lived in. When the door would not open, they had a locksmith open it and saw that Buse had died as a result of a transphobic hate crime. The friends then informed the police of the situation.

The body of Buse, who was killed with a sharp object, showed signs of battery all over her. It is estimated that the hate crime occurred two days before her body was discovered. No information about the attacker has been obtained yet.

The district attorney’s investigation of the home is still ongoing. It is thought that the attacker was a young man. Camera footage will be examined to find the murderer.

Another transphobic hate crime was experienced in Istanbul in recent weeks. Asya Özgür, who had previously been a candidate in the local elections (2014) for municipal council membership, was attacked in Fındıkzade, where she had worked the previous night. Özgür’s condition is improving.

 

Defendant accused of murdering trans woman Çağla Joker gets a sentence reduction because of his age, then a reduction for having been ‘unjustly provoked’

In the case of Çağla Joker, the victim of a hate-crime killing in Beyoğlu last April, the court reduced the defendant’s sentence to ten years on the grounds of “unjust provocation.”

Source: Burcu Karakaş, “Çağla Joker’in katil zanlısına yaş indiriminden sonra bir de ‘haksız tahrik’ indirimi” (“Defendant accused of murdering Çağla Joker gets a sentence reduction because of his age, then a reduction for having been ‘unjustly provoked'”), Diken, 1 October 2015. http://www.diken.com.tr/cagla-jokerin-katil-zanlisina-yas-indiriminden-sonra-bir-de-haksiz-tahrik-indirimi/

Trans women Çağla Joker and Nalan suffered an armed attack in Tarlabaşı on the night of 20 April [2014], and 25-year-old Çağla Joker, wounded in the chest, lost her life at the site of the incident. H.T., sentenced to 16 years and getting a reduction for being 17 years old, said in testimony given in court:

“We met two persons who we supposed were women. We negotiated. He said he was a man. I asked him to give me back the money I had paid. He said he would not return the money and cursed vehemently.”

Though tried for intentional homicide and life in prison, the court reduced the sentence to 10 years in prison due to reductions for “unjust provocation,” “good behavior,” and on account of him being younger than 18.

Not returning the 50 liras was an unjust provocation

In its decision, the judicial panel gave its opinion that Çağla Joker’s failure to return the money that the defendant had paid constituted an unjust provocation. The following phrases appeared in the reasoning:

“The defendant wanted the 50 liras back, and when at every stage he demanded its return, the deceased asserted that they would not return the money; confronted with the declarations of the deceased, the defendant came under the influence of anger and distress, and under the influence of anger and distress drew his weapon.”

These punishments will not be effective in ending the murders

Lawyer Fırat Söyle, commenting on the decision for Diken, emphasized that the sentence reductions being applied to defendants accused of hate crimes would not help to end the murders, and said:

“Inflicting very severe penalties on those who act out of the hatred engendered by government and society will not put an end to hate-crime killings, nevertheless, we demand that the severest penalties be inflicted on defendants accused of hate-crime killings, in the name of satisfying a sense of justice within this system. Unless the material and moral culture of the government system and of society changes, the punishments handed down to defendants will, unfortunately, be ineffective in ending these murders.”

No one has taken ownership of the case

On the other hand, reacting to the fact that no one has taken ownership of the case, Söyle continued as follows:

“The slogans that slam the government, patriarchy, and transphobia, and the statements made by the press, fade away before three days have passed, and even before seven days have gone by, they are forgotten. Çağla, and people like Çağla, were not organized, and their circle was not ‘extensive.’ Çağlas are destitute people, and those who are left behind to weep and mourn for them are those who are like them. In the newspapers they get a single mention on the third page at most. The reactions immediately following their murders end up buried in deep silence as the trials progress.”

*Translator’s Note: The Turkish language does not have gender pronouns and translation into languages with gender pronouns poses a challenge. In this translation, we have opted to use several pronouns to describe the victim. In statements by the perpetrator, we used the pronoun “he” because the perpetrator argues that the victim was male. In statements by the court, we used the pronoun “they” because the sentences do not make clear how the court views the victim’s gender. This choice does not reflect an openness by the court to identify the victim as the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” but to reflect that the Turkish language does not have gender pronouns. In the journalist Burcu Karakaş’s narration, we have chosen the pronoun “she” as the journalist works on women’s and LGBTI rights issues.

High turnout at the hate crimes panel in Mersin

Ismail Saymaz from the Radikal newspaper and Yıldız Tar from Kaos GL participated in the “Hate Crimes” panel, on “Hrant Dink and Zirve Publishing House Assassinations” and “Sexual Orientation- and Gender Identity-based Hate Crimes,” at Mersin University. The panel was moved to a larger lecture hall due to high turnout.

mersin-universitesi-nefret-suclari-paneli

Photo by Salih-i Umar

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Mayor Hazinedar: Message to the victims of hate crimes on the occasion of the 20 November Trans Day of Remembrance

Source: Av. Murat Hazinedar, “Nefrete Inat, Yaşasın Hayat!”, (“In Spite of Hate, Yes to Life!”), 20 November 2014, http://besiktas.bel.tr/Sayfa/7138/nefrete-inat-yasasin-hayat

“Discrimination”, “hate speech”, “hate crimes”, “honor killings of homosexuals/transexuals”… How truly aware are we of these phrases that we have heard for a long time now? How seriously do we take these chilling images that we encounter every day in newspapers and TV news bulletins? Are we prepared to answer these questions with a clear conscience? Unfortunately, no! We must confront a painful truth. Official figures state that 36 trans individuals have been murdered over the past ten years. Experts, however, contend that without “transphobia” being delineated amongst other hate crimes, the real figures are likely to be several times higher.

bilboardlar13

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Transgender people were not taken to the hospital, instead, their bodies would be dumped on the highway

Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Translar hastaneye alınmaz, cesetleri otobanda bırakılırdı” (“Trans people were not taken to the hospital, instead, their bodies would be dumped on the highway”) T24, 11 October 2014, http://t24.com.tr/haber/translar-hastaneye-alinmaz-cesetleri-otobanda-birakilirdi,273578

Forty-year-old LGBTI activist H.Y. described the brutality that the police inflicted on transgender women at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters at the end of the ’90s.

Leaving her family when she was 14 years old, H.Y. had no choice but to engage in sex work in order to survive. In 1996, when she was 17 years old, H.Y. was taken into custody while performing sex work out of necessity in Merter, and underwent torture for a week at the Gayrettepe Police Headquarters.

Currently 40 years old, LGBTI activist H.Y. told T24 about the oppression and torture that the police perpetrated against transgender women. Stating that police torture was systematically perpetrated against trans women sex workers for a period lasting from 1996 to 1999, she said, “The police would dump our dying friends on the highway and leave.”

Explaining that during the time she engaged in sex work in Merter she and her friends were frequently subjected to police brutality, H.Y. described those days as follows:

“While we were in Merter, the police would want to arrest us, and we would flee. They had cudgels in their hands and would throw them at our feet so that we would trip. The cudgel would land around our feet and we would trip. In fact, many of our friends died because of this. On the highway, cars would run over trans women. The police would dump our dying friends there and leave.”

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