Kemal Ördek

Defendants at Kemal Ördek’s case to be jailed during trial

The court ruled to imprison the defendants who appealed the verdict of jail time and monetary punishment in Kemal Ördek’s case.

Source: Kaos GL, “Kemal Ördek davası sanıkları tutuklu yargılanacak”, 2 March 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23206

The assailants who attacked sex worker and Red Umbrella Association rights advocate Kemal Ördek in July 2015 appealed the verdict of jail time and judicial monetary punishment. On their objection, the file was moved to the Ankara District Court.

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The hearing took place on March 2, 2017 at 11:45 at the Ankara District Court’s 17th Penal Office.

The court ruled to continue the prison sentence of suspect due to evidence of possible theft.

The court also ruled to arrest the two other suspects due to flight risk. One suspect appeared in court while the other did not.

What happened?

The fifth hearing of Kemal Ördek’s sexual assault case took place on Nov. 17, 2016 at Ankara’s First High Penal Court. Kemal Ördek had filed suit for death threats they received after the sexual assault and the case was finalized in October. Following that, the case of sexual assault and extortion concluded at the fifth hearing.

Ankara’s First High Penal Court ruled to punish the assailants who raped and extorted Ördek in their Ankara home with the crimes of qualified sexual assault, theft, threat, insult and depriving a person of their freedom. The suspects were sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.  

 

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.

The Hande Kader murder: No one hears our voice

The struggle to stay alive in Turkey where trans individuals are pushed to the city’s peripheries as well as the struggle to prove their existence finds life in a sentence that is repeated, emphasized, written at every demonstration: “Don’t be silent, shout, trans exist.”

Source: Rengin Arslan, “Hande Kader cinayeti: Kimse sesimizi duymuyor”, BBC Türkçe, 20 August 2016, http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-37141548

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“Hande was one of the nicest people in the world. She was very calm normally but also hyperactive. She always went to the LGBTI marches. She pursued a cause that she felt right until the end.”

This is how flat mate Davut Dengiler describes the 23 year old trans woman Hande Kader whose body was found in a forest in Istanbul last week. She was last seen entering a client’s car one night. Davut Dengiler, long hopeful to find Hande alive, ended up finding her in the morgue for unidentified persons in Yenibosna.

“I was about to leave the morgue. I felt a sense of lightness for not having found her there. At the last minute, a doctor there said, ‘there’s also a burned body, look at that as well.’ I did. I told them identifying features. They then looked at the computer, at the report. The doctor put his hand on my back and gave his condolences. I lost myself,” he says of that day.

He then explains Hande’s responses to other deaths, to trans deaths:

“She would go crazy when trans individuals were killed. She’d be so sad. She’d be so courageous the moment she left the house. She’d also be very restless sometimes. She had been stabbed and beaten before. This doesn’t happen only to Hande, it happens to all of them.”

‘The highest number of trans murders in Europe take place in Turkey’

According to Trans Europe’s data, the highest number of trans murders in Europe take place in Turkey. Globally, Brazil is the least safe country for trans individuals.

But “there is no safe country for trans people” as the institution’s 2016 report states.

Hande was someone who tried to call attention to trans murders in Turkey and the injustices she reacted against. She was among those who were in the front rows of demonstrations.  

But perhaps it is the images of Hande Kader that has been shared innumerable times on social media that best explain the trans woman who is still waiting to be buried due to identification, autopsy, and DNA testing processes. In 2015, police had banned Pride March organized every year by LGBTI in Taksim and tried to disperse the crowds using pressurized water, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. Despite it all, Hande Kader had not “dispersed” and stood against the police with stubbornness.

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At some point in a naive anger, she reproached the journalists who were recording the events. She said, “You take pictures but you do not publish them, no one is hearing our voices.”

Hande Kader and other trans individuals’ unheard voices came this time with the news of her death. In a way that no one wants to think or imagine: by being burned.

Her life, which she tried to earn through sex work, was always in danger. Just like all the other trans individuals who are forced to this, she worked on the street. Just like the others, she sought a way out but could not find it. Her close friend Funda says, “she did not like this work,” and adds, “but who would like it anyway.”

“There are very few trans individuals who die of natural causes”

The trans individuals I spoke to have two commonalities. One is that they are heartbroken by society with the reminder that people went out on the streets in millions after the murder of Özgecan Aslan, who was similarly burned and killed. The second is that nearly all of them have a story on how they “escaped death.”

Kemal Ördek is one of them. Ördek answers my questions and says they were “lucky” to survive an attack in their home.  

“There are very few trans individuals who die of natural causes. Nearly none. There are very few trans individuals in Turkey who have reached the age of 50 or 60. When you are pushed to sex work, it’s not possible for people to reach old age. They are killed. I don’t know how I survived. That’s the sad part,” Ördek says.

Ördek completed a degree in international studies in Bilkent University with a scholarship after ranking at the top in the exams and is pursuing graduate studies in sociology in Middle East Technical University. Ördek earns their living mostly through sex work.

“Do they have to be sex workers?”

Kemal Ördek is also the president of Red Umbrella, an association that defends the rights of trans sex workers. I ask them one of the questions that society often asks trans individuals: Do they have to be sex workers?

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Ördek says, “We are viewed not as people who can integrate into society but as the dirt of society. What grabs our attention most when we are walking on the street are the looks that see us as sexual objects. That the people who diss us do so through words that suggest they want to be with us. It doesn’t matter if it’s a woman or a man. We are humans who are sexual objects.”

In a time when women who make up half the world combat against inequality and discrimination in the workplace, it appears that trans individuals finding employment in the fields of their education is impossible.

“A never-ending mourning”

Ördek describes their feelings as “a never-ending mourning” when talking about the insecure, vulnerable, and fragile conditions trans individuals face and says,”

“When I first became an activist, I would not be able to sleep thinking about the kind of news I’d get in the middle of the night. Even now, my phone is at the highest ringtone when I sleep at night. I wait for news, someone will be stabbed, someone beaten and I’ll get called and I’ll have to go there immediately. This is a never-ending mourning and state of trauma.”

The identity reassignment process for trans individuals in Turkey is a long and painful one and many don’t dare to because of this. Because of this, trans women can’t change the [gendered] color of their IDs and can’t work in brothels where they may have more security.

Sinem Hun, a lawyer who works closely on trans identity reassignment cases, interprets the relevant gender reassignment article in Turkey’s Civil Law as “the whole of the processes that embody too many rights violations.”

“24 states in Europe require by law that trans people undergo sterilization”

Hun says the state “wants to see” that both trans men and trans women have to received surgeries for their genitalia to establish that the gender reassignment process has been done physically. At the same time, she says sterilization is mandatory.

Hun gives the example of Argentina where gender reassignment is based on the person’s statement and says they have applied individually to the Constitutional Court for the cancellation of the article that forces surgery. She hopes the article could be annulled.

“There are trans individuals who cannot change their identity for 5-6 years,” says Hun and emphasizes that there are very few competent microsurgery doctors for these surgeries and that these surgeries in Turkey are expensive and bring forth a difficult process.

Sterilization is an issue that European countries have yet to agree on. According to Trans Europe’s Trans Rights Europe Index, there are 24 countries that require sterilization for gender reassignment. Among them are Turkey, Russia, France, and Switzerland.

Hungary and Albania do not have legal gender recognition

Sterilization is not mandatory in 15 countries, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain.

Gender reassignment is not considered legal in Hungary, Cyprus, Moldova, and Albania, according to the Europe Index.

The struggle to stay alive in Turkey where trans individuals are pushed to the city’s peripheries as well as the struggle to prove their existence finds life in a sentence that is repeated, emphasized, written at every demonstration: “Don’t be silent, shout, trans exist.”

The struggle for society to accept their existence and the struggle to stay alive is together. Legal processes and democratic wins may determine when they’ll be equal citizens in Turkey and other countries but trans, LGBTI individuals, and their allies hope that Hande Kader will be a turning point in trans murders.

 

Kemal Ördek: ’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister Islam

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered.

Source: Kemal Ördek, “Su Testisi Tecavüz ve Bakan İslam’a Bir Soru” (“’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister İslam”), bianet.org, 17 July 2015, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/toplumsal-cinsiyet/166083-su-testisi-tecavuz-ve-bakan-islam-a-bir-soru

I’m writing as a rape victim.

I’m writing as a theft, threat, and insult victim.

I’m writing as a trans and as a sex worker.

I’m writing as a rights activist.

I’m writing as someone who now thinks twice before going out.

I break out in a cold sweat; I tense up. I can’t do a thing without someone by me. For the last twelve days, it is as if I’ve been under house arrest. Just yesterday, I saw one of my attackers when I was out with my friends; I simply ran back home. It is as if they are everywhere. I try to stay away from people, but they are out and about. This is what they call justice.

Özgecan comes to my mind. Everyone cried for her and mourned her loss. They took Özgecan away from us, just like with all the other women they took away from us. An otherwise silent Turkey stood up for her, took to the streets, ached, trembled. We trembled.

With Özgecan, we relived a familiar story. We remembered all the sex workers and trans people who have been raped and killed for all these years.

Just yesterday, the entire country was startled when Münevver Karabulut was murdered by decapitation. Only a week later, when a trans sex worker was found in a trash can with her head cut off, everyone who had stood up for Münevver disappeared. Trans women and sex workers were left alone in a country of murders by decapitation.

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered. In all likelihood, there would not be any reaction if I weren’t a well-known rights activist.

Trans people, sex workers, the other women, the anonymous women whose lives are tested by violence, rape, and murder are also raped by silence. In the back streets, in invisible streets, in those “deserved” lives, rape occur every night. Because those women live the lives they “deserve.” Because those who “live by the sword, die by the sword.” Because they deserve rape and death is written in their fate.

We have a Minister of Family and Social Policies, whose faint voice we hear after every case of rape and death. She is someone who disappears, becomes quiet, and shrugs when the issue is trans women and sex workers. She is someone who is complicit in the silence that rapes us…

I have a question for Minister İslam:

Dear Minister: I’m a trans and a sex worker, and I was raped. I was robbed, threatened, and insulted. I was mistreated when I called the police for protection from the violence that I suffered. One of your officers told me, “but you weren’t raped.” Another one lamented that, “this Tribe of Lot isn’t extinct yet.”

I am thankful that I am alive. What I do can’t be called living, but still. My friends advise me to look on the bright side and be thankful that I am alive.

Dear Minister: you are everybody’s minister, is that right? This “everybody” includes trans people and sex workers too, right? If your answer is yes, I ask, why are you silent about what happened to me? The investigations are ongoing and you’re still silent. If a lawsuit begins, are you going to stand by me? Are you going to get involved in it? Are you going to stand by a trans, sex worker, rights activist who was raped and brutalized?

Or am I, are we, going to be considered as people who “deserve” what happens to them? When one of us is killed tomorrow, will there be only 2-3 people to say a final goodbye? Are we, the members of the Tribe of Lot as some of you say, going to continue to be “disciplined” by violence, rape, and murder?

Dear Minister, is your silence fair? We may not be women in your eyes; we may be “immoral.” But are we not human either? Are your “conservatism” and your “religious and human values” silent in the face of violence?

I, your citizen, a trans, a sex worker, a rights activist, a victim… When were we made to be so lonely?

Dear Minister, I invite you, your Ministry, and your government to stand by me. I keep hoping for the faint possibility. If you take a step, it will send a message to rapists.

Before we die again…

Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists: We do not hide, We are not ashamed

On 15 July, Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists gathered to protest the police attack on the Pride March, said “Neither AKP nor men will be able to prevent our love between women or our going out to the streets to shout for our freedom.”

Source: “Lezbiyen Biseksüel Feministler: Saklanmıyoruz, Utanmıyoruz”, (“Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists: We do not hide, We are not ashamed”), bianet, 15 July 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/166052-lezbiyen-biseksuel-feministler-saklanmiyoruz-utanmiyoruz utm_content=buffer32896&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists were gathered on 15 July in front of the Kadıköy Pier to protest the police attack on the Pride Parade.

Women pointed out that hate speech against LGBTIs are being disseminated with religious excuses and stated that this behavior imprisons women in the male dominated family, love and sexuality.

At the press release read before the march from the Pier to the Bull Statue, they said that the reason for the attack LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was exposed to is the AKP government which targets LGBTIs.

The following statements appear in the press release:

“We have something feminist to say to the ones who want to narrow our lives, force women to stay in their houses and LGBTIs in ghettos by using ideas of public moral and decency!”

“We refuse to be imprisoned in male dominated sexuality. Neither the AKP government who prevented the Pride Parade using Ramadan as an excuse nor men will be able to prevent our love between women or our going out to the streets and shouting for our freedom.”

“We will be in Taksim next year for the Pride Parade, as [it] has been for 13 years. We will win, love will win.”

HDP’s Paylan submits Parliamentary Question to Minister of Interior on LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek, Discrimination, and Violence against LGBTI

Garo Paylan, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) member of parliament from Istanbul, asked Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the attack against LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek.

Source: Bia Haber, “Garo Paylan’dan LGBTİ Aktivisti Kemal Ördek’e Saldırı Hakkında Soru Önergesi” (“Parliamentary Question on LGBTI Activist Kemal Ördek from Garo Paylan”), bianet.org, 15 July 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/166058-garo-paylan-dan-lgbti-aktivisti-kemal-ordek-e-saldiri-hakkinda-soru-onergesi

Garo Paylan, an HDP member of parliament from Istanbul, asked Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the attack against LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek.

LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was sexually assaulted on Sunday, 5 July, at their home in Ankara. In response to an officer’s comment, “Enough with this Tribe of Lot,” the assailants allegedly responded “We are real men, officer; you would understand, wouldn’t you?” and were subsequently released. Ördek spoke about the incident to bianet.

Following the attack, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville made written statements and called on Turkish authorities to take effective measures against homophobic and transphobic aggression and discrimination in a written statement. Republican People’s Party Members of Parliament Mahmut Tanal (Istanbul) and Veli Ağbaba (Malatya) introduced the issue to the parliament with parliamentary questions.

The parliamentary question that Garo Paylan submitted to the Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk includes the following questions:

  • Is it correct that Kemal Ördek called the police for help, but was ignored and scolded by the police?
  • Is it correct that one officer commented, “Enough with the Tribe of Lot,” referring to Kemal Ördek, and that some other officers teased them due to their sexual identity?
  • Has an administrative investigation been started about the officers involved?
  • What is the number of similar attacks against LGBTI individuals between 2010-2015 according to official records?
  • How many LGBTI individuals lost their lives or sustained injuries as a result of similar attacks in the last five years?
  • What kinds of penalties have Directorate of Security employees received as a result of investigations conducted in this subject?

Rape and Police Violence Carried to Parliament with Tanal’s Parliamentary Question

Mahmut Tanal, the Republican People’s Party’s member of parliament from Istanbul, submits question to Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the experiences of trans activist Kemal Ördek.

Source: Kaos GL, “Tecavüz ve polis şiddeti Meclis’e taşındı” (“Rape and Police Violence Carried to Parliament”), kaosgl.org, 11 July 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19823

Following the rape in their home and exposure to police violence of trans activist and Red Umbrella Association member Kemal Ördek, a parliamentary question was submitted by Mahmut Tanal.

The question encompassed the involved police officers’ covering up of the event and their use of offensive language, as well as the release of the people who allegedly committed the crime and their continued threats to Kemal Ördek over the phone. The following questions were posed to the Minister of Interior:

  • Are the allegations that on the night of these events, when Kemal Ördek asked for help from the police, they were not taken seriously and were reprimanded by the police officers, despite being the victim, true?
  • What was the legal justification for Kemal Ördek being brought to the police station alongside the suspects in the same car? Has any inquiry about the police officers who did this been started?
  • Are the allegations that upon entering the police station one of the police officers said, “Enough of this Tribe of Lot!”, that the other police officers mocked the victim for their gender identity, that the police officer who took the victim’s statement tried to make the victim sign a record of statement, different from their own and that this police officer interfered with the victim’s statement-giving true?
  • Has an inquiry regarding these police officers and other public officials been started by the Ministry?
  • What administrative sanctions will be taken towards these officials?