Michelle Demishevich

T24 Correspondent Demishevich Pointed to as a Target

T24’s correspondent Michelle Demishevich was pointed to as a target by a magazine called “Furkan News.”

Source: Elif Akgül, “T24 Muhabiri Hedef Gösteriliyor” (“T24 Correspondent Pointed to as a Target”), Bianet, 3 June 2015, http://bianet.org/kadin/medya/165011-t24-muhabiri-hedef-gosteriliyor

In the news article titled “Sümeyye Erdoğan provoked by German descendent Transsexual,” Demishevich’s following of a press release as a journalist has been presented with the words “During the press statement following Erdoğan’s meeting, plainclothes police officers apprehended Michelle Demishevich, a transsexual of German descent, who was following her.”

The news article, which did not provide an account of the police violence [during the incident], presented Demishevich’s journalism activities as crime and pointed out her previous workplace IMC TV and her current employer T24 as targets.

Demishevich told Bianet that she will be filing a criminal complaint.

What happened?

Demishevich was subjected to violence by plainclothes police officers while she was following the press release by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan in front of the Belgian Consulate. While Demishevich was dragged away by her hair, other journalists and correspondents who were present during the incident ridiculed her.

Hate Speech by Furkan Magazine: “HDP-PKK’s faggot correspondent of German descent was caught in attempted provocation”

Transsexual correspondent, who is working for the PKK’s media branch also known as IMC TV and for the sore Kemalists’ website T24, was apprehended by police while following Sümeyye Erdoğan.

Source: Furkan Magazine, “Sümeyye Erdoğan’a Alman Asıllı Transeksüel Provokasyonu” (“Sümeyye Erdoğan provoked by Transsexual of German Descent”), 1 June 2015, http://www.furkanhaber.com/sumeyye-erdogana-provokasyon/

AK Party[1]’s Women’s Branch issued a press release in front of the Belgian Consulate to support Mahinur Özdemir, who was expelled from her party for not supporting the claims about the Armenian genocide. After the statement, Sümeyye Erdoğan met with the Belgian Consul-General. During the press statement following Erdoğan’s meeting, plainclothes police officers apprehended Michelle Demishevich, a transsexual of German descent, who was following her. Police officers forcefully removed the German descendent person called Michelle while she resisted the police.

It was uncovered that the suspect was a German citizen who was living in Turkey and claiming to be a speaker at HDP-PKK’s [2] media branch IMC TV and T24, a website frequented by ex-government coup supporters of February 28th.


[1] “AK Parti,” lit. WHITE or CLEAN Party, is often used as the abbreviation for “AKP,” Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party, by Party officials and followers.

[2] HDP is the Peoples’ Democratic Party which takes its roots and support from Turkey’s Kurds. The party’s strong social democratic message also includes the LGBTI. PKK is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which has led an armed struggle against the Turkish state between 1984-2013 under the leadership of Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned on an island-prison in Turkey since 1999. The war has claimed more than 30,000 lives and PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and NATO.  Critics of the HDP often claim the HDP to be an extension of the PKK.

Translator’s note: The above example of hate speech has been translated for educational and advocacy purposes.

Correspondent Michelle Demishevich beaten by police

Michelle Demishevich: “One of the police officers punched me in my abdominal cavity while I was following Sümeyye Erdoğan’s press statement.”

Source: “Muhabirimiz Michelle Demishevich’e polis dayağı!” (“Police beating to our correspondent Michelle Demishevich”), T24, 1 June 2015, http://t24.com.tr/haber/muhabirimiz-michelle-demisheviche-polis-dayagi,298422

T24 correspondent Michelle Demishevich was subjected to police violence by a plainclothes police officer while she was reporting at the press release by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, in front of the Belgian Consulate [in Istanbul]. Our correspondent, who was removed from the area by being dragged by her hair, will be filing a formal complaint.

The AKP’s women’s branch issued a press statement in front of the Belgian Embassy in Istanbul in support of Mahinur Özdemir, an MP in the Belgian Parliament [who was expelled from her party, Humanist Democratic Centre, for acting against the party’s by-laws, which recognizes the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide -Trans.]. After the statement, Sümeyye Erdoğan met with the Belgian Consul-General. Michelle Demishevich reported that she was prevented by plainclothes police officers during Erdoğan’s press statement following the meeting. Demishevich said: “I was about to record Ms. Sümeyye’s statement when I was shut out by a total of five plainclothes police officers, two of whom were women. Officers ignored my objections that I was a journalist. I told Ms. Sümeyye and my colleagues that I was subjected to police violence. Ms. Sümeyye said ‘please do not block the journalist from performing her duty,’ yet the police officers dragged me away from the area by my hair.”

Demishevich reported the following regarding the assault against her by the officers:

“One of the officers punched me in my abdominal cavity. I informed my lawyers Yelvi Doğan, Harika Günay Karataş, and Levent Pişkin of the incident. We will be filing a criminal complaint against the officers.”

Eylül Cansın’s mother speaks of her daughter’s suicide, discrimination, and trans gangs

The mother of Eylül Cansın- a trans woman who committed suicide- told the story of her daughter’s 23 years, from her childhood to her death.

Source: Michelle Demishevic, “’Kadıköy trans çetesi kızım Eylül Cansın’ı pazarladı, uyuşturucuya zorladı, işkence yaptı!”, (“The Kadıköy trans gang sold my daughter Eylül Cansın, forced her to do drugs, tortured her!”), T24, 19 January 2015, http://t24.com.tr/haber/kadikoy-trans-cetesi-kizim-eylul-cansini-pazarladi-uyusturucuya-zorladi-iskence-yapti,284174

23-year-old trans woman Eylül Cansın jumped off of the Bosphorus Bridge on January 4, 2015 at around 03:30 a.m. As her deceased body was found near the Ortaköy shore,  the video she had recorded before jumping off circulated on social media after being published on T24. “Today is my best day. I am very happy but today will be another better day for me. Thank you all,” she said at the beginning of her video continuing:

“I couldn’t because people didn’t let me. I couldn’t work, I wanted to do things but I couldn’t. You get me? They impeded with me many times; they made me suffer a lot. I leave everyone alone with God and now I’m going to the Bosphorus Bridge.”

In spite of Cansın saying so in her video, her mother says that this is not a suicide. Cansın’s mother, Mrs. Bala, to whom Cansın calls out to in the video saying,  “Mom, all I want is, I have a little dog at home, I leave him to you. He never pees, never poops at home. Always say to him ‘he is my child’, never get angry with him,” asks this question:

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“The deaths of trans people driven to suicide by society are hate crimes”

Source: Michelle Demishevich, ‘Toplumun intihara sürüklediği trans bireylerin ölümleri nefret cinayetidir’ (The deaths of trans people driven to suicide by society are hate crimes.) T24, 6 January 2015, http://t24.com.tr/haber/toplumun-intihara-surukledigi-trans-bireylerin-olumleri-nefret-cinayetidir,282879

Eylül Cansın, who committed suicide by jumping off the Istanbul Boğaziçi Bridge, drew attention to increasing transphobic sentiment and violence.

LGBTI organizations held simultaneous protests in Istanbul and Ankara after the death of Eylül Cansın, a 23 year old who committed suicide by jumping off the Istanbul Boğaziçi Bridge.

During the rally in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, LGBTI activists marched from Tünel to Galatasaray Square with a banner reading “You can’t extort or exert violence on trans sex workers.” holding up placards and shouting out slogans.

Pink Life LGBTI, Istanbul LGBTT, Kaos GL, Black Pink Triangle LGBTI, Freedom to Earth Association, Protection and Development of Animal Rights Association, Pink Caretta LGBTQ, Kars Platform Against Homophobia and Transpohobia, Malatya Youth Initiative Against Homophobia and Transpohobia, Hevi LGBTI, Socialist Salvation Party (SYKP) and Revolutionary Highschoolers attended the event in Ankara’s Yüksel Street that took place at the same time.

The group, marching against transphobia despite ill weather, gave a press conference in Galatasaray Square. The strict security measures taken by Istanbul Riot Police and the presence of a TOMA, an intervention vehicle for social events, stood out. LGBTQ activist Yağmur Beyrut read the press release on behalf of the group.

Yağmur Beyrut, who raised concerns about the growing violence against trans women nowadays, said: “The sex trade, which often stands as the only option for trans women, does not provide safer working conditions than 19th century coal mines did. Sex workers are forced, day by day, to work under less job security, all-the-while facing greater risk of occupational violence and homicide. They face increasing rivalry and prevalent employment problems due to the reduction of spaces allocated to them and the growing pressures put on them.”

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News Media Analysis: “One less trans following each trans-related news”

Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Her trans haberinde bir trans eksildi,” (“One less trans with each trans-related news,”) P24, 13 October 2014, http://www.platform24.org/guncel/514/her-trans-haberinde-trans-kadinlar-bir-eksildi

The media has a direct responsibility for the discrimination and violence that target trans individuals.

For years, the media perceived news and updates on the LGBTI as if they were an undesirable workload. There are already very few journalists at news desks who have a mastery on the language of gender [as a social construct]. The making of LGBTI news requires significant sensitivity. Sentences should be carefully chosen. Yet a discourse of hatred, deployed through trans women, has been rampant in LGBTI news stories that appear in the media. Trans women have been represented as mean and wicked in news headings such as “transvestite terror,” “transvestites have spread horror,” “transvestites have entered into armed conflict with the police,” and so on. In the last few years, positive news stories by women who are sensitive to LGBTI, women, and gender have been effective, to a limited degree, in undoing this perception.

Whenever media published a story on trans women, a trans murder happened the very next day. Perhaps trans women were targeted by the news stories, or perhaps it was the deployment of the discourse of hatred that set the stage for hate crimes.

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IMC TV Statement on Demishevich’s Firing

Source: “İMC TV’den açıklama” (“IMC TV Statement”), IMC TV, September 16, 2014. http://www.imctv.com.tr/2014/09/16/imc-tvden-aciklama

Given the claims circulating in certain news sites and social media upon our parting ways with Michelle Demishevich, we feel the need to clarify the issue.

Our decision to stop working with Michelle Demishevich has nothing to do with “red lipstick and inappropriate attire” as is claimed. Demishevich’s claim that she has not been sent out to the field with assignments for the past 7 months is not true. She has regularly been given assignments since she began working with us.

The main reason that has led to her departure is her failure to abide by the work discipline and her continuing to do so despite being warned. We have received many complaints from people who have acted as sources for her news reports about quarrels they have had with her. These complaints have been relayed to her and she has been warned as an IMC TV employee not to argue with news sources and cause tension and quarrels. During her final assignment where she was asked to observe the Saturday Mothers[1] protest on September 13, Demischevich argued with the representatives of the Saturday Mothers and uttered inappropriate words to one Saturday mother. This has been the final straw for us. As IMC TV, our sensitivity about the kind of responsibility journalists must apply to everyone regardless of identity and gender.

It is also not true that Michelle Demishevich has been warned about her attire and behavior in the institution. We expected her to show responsibility and integrity while she worked for us and we expect her to do so after her departure from IMC TV.

Footnotes:

[1] Reportedly inspired by the Mothers’ of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, Saturday Mothers are a group of mothers who have been protesting disappearances in custody and political murders every saturday in the Galatasaray Square of Istanbul since 1990s. (Sources: a, b)