Sebahattin Öztürk

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?

Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee Press Statement

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FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLIC AND MEDIA RELEASE

The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade has been held for thirteen years. Yet this year the Istanbul Governor’s Office blocked the parade, citing the fact that it coincided with Ramadan. The use of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, as an excuse to curtail the freedoms of assembly, demonstration, and speech is a clear violation of rule of law. In taking this illegal decision, the Governor’s Office has thus broken the law.

In applying the governor’s illegal order, law enforcement officials, too, became accomplices in a crime. They attacked tens of thousands of people with tear gas, riot-control vehicles, and plastic bullets, even though those people had come to assemble peacefully, just as they had last year. Law enforcement officials violated their legal obligations by carrying out the unconstitutional and illegal order handed down by the Istanbul governor’s office. Indeed, on the day of the attack, many police officers lacked helmets and registration numbers that would have helped identify them.

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Moreover, the decision to block the parade because of Ramadan artificially inflames tensions by presenting LGBTI status and Muslim faith as if they were supposedly two opposing identities. It purposefully ignores the fact that LGBTI individuals can come from all walks of life and aims to demonize them in the eyes of the wider public, preparing the ground for future attacks against LGBTI individuals. The government and the governor’s office will thus be held directly responsible for any attacks against LGBTI individuals that may be committed from this point on.

In a statement following the events, the Istanbul Governor’s Office stated that it had not received any notification about the parade and also that it had felt that certain groups were going to react violently to the parade.

First, if there was indeed credible information that an outside attack was to occur, it is the duty of the governor and of law enforcement to take measures to prevent such an attack, not to themselves attack the group exercising its right to assemble.

Second, Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstration Marches, as well as the relevant article of the constitution, are both entirely clear: Such assemblies are not subject to the prior permission of the governor’s office, nor is there even any obligation to notify the authorities. The 13th annual LGBTI Pride Parade planned for Sunday, 28 June in Taksim Square, was thus not in violation of any law. Moreover, after the parade itself was blocked, law enforcement continued to attack people gathered on the streets for hours. The streets and venues where the Pride Party was being held were attacked by police using gas canisters and plastic bullets long into the night. Such behavior on the part of the police goes beyond merely preventing an “unannounced” parade: It shows that this was an attack on our identities and our very existence.

Hundreds of people who came to participate in the parade were affected or harmed by the attacks, some with injuries serious enough to warrant hospital reports. We would like to take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to all of our friends and supporters who were victims of police violence on Sunday. For years, the state purposely ignored systematic violence being inflicted on LGBTI individuals and even reduced the punishments faced by perpetrators; now it is the state itself that has directly and physically attacked the existence of LGBTI individuals in Turkey.

Furthermore, we fail to understand how the same government that assured the United Nations on Friday (26 June) that it would protect LGBTI rights could on Sunday (28 June) go and attack the 13th annual Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade without providing a legal justification. At the UN meeting on Friday [for the Universal Periodic Review], Turkey approved Norway’s proposal that “Turkey should carry out its human-rights obligations by ensuring that LGBTI individuals and non-governmental organizations are included in the process.” It also declared that it would carry out all proposals approved within the framework of the United Nations. A mere two days later, however, the government acted in violation of these proposals.

We repeat: We were here before, we are here now, and we will always be here!

Turkey has held an LGBTI Pride Parade for thirteen years. It is just one of the many activities of Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week in late June, which has been held for 23 years to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It will continue to take place next year and every year thereafter. We will persist in our struggle for existence regardless of the government in power. We will continue to resist all forms of oppression, as we have for years.

We’re here to stay, so get used to it!

At 12:30 on Thursday, 2 July, we will file an official criminal complaint at the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul against Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk, Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin, and Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok for their role in ordering the attacks on the 13th Annual Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade. We call on all political parties, labor unions, the democratically minded Turkish public, and international non-governmental organizations to come and express their solidarity with our cause.

Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee

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