Yıldız Tar

Minute-by-minute: What happened at the Pride Parade?

Photo: Şener Yılmaz Aslan

Photo: Şener Yılmaz Aslan via Kaos GL

The police attacked the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade with tear gas, pressurized water, and plastic bullets. Protesters were taken into custody and journalists assaulted. Parliamentarians from HDP [People’s Democratic Party]  and CHP [Republican People’s Party] resisted police violence hand in hand. Despite the police attacks that continued throughout the day, the rainbow flag was waved in all the streets of Beyoğlu.

Source: Kaos GL, “Onur Yürüyüşü’nde saat saat ne oldu?” (“Minute-by-minute: What happened at the Pride Parade?”), 29 June 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19725

The governorate attempted to ban the Parade using Ramadan as an excuse. Assaults continued throughout the day on İstiklal Avenue and in Cihangir and Şişli. Three different crowds marched to Tunnel. During the press statement there, the crowds were assaulted [by police -Trans.]. Thousands of people resisted as they tried to gather together despite tear gas and plastic bullet attacks by the police.

Here is a minute-by-minute timeline of the attacks:

14.00 A press statement was read in front of the Galatasaray High School by mental health workers. At first, the police did not allow the reading of the press release.
15.00 The police attempted to take into custody [Bianet editor] Çiçek Tahaoğlu and Kaos GL editor Yıldız Tar when they tried to record the intervention of the Genç-Sen [Students’ Union] stand by the police. Our [Kaos GL] editor Tar was assaulted and removed from the stand area when they reminded the police that journalists’ right to report cannot be interfered with. Bianet editor Tahaoğu who reacted to the event was taken into custody. The editors were released upon the intervention of lawyers.
16.30 Participants encountered the first police attacks at the Pride Parade on İstiklal Avenue. Participants were scattered into side streets.
16.44 Following the police assault, LGBTIs in the side streets gathered again on İstiklal Avenue as they chanted slogans.
16.57 The crowd attempted to pass through the police barricades on side street entrances and enter İstiklal Avenue. Thousands succeeded in gathering together at the Taksim Square entrance of İstiklal Avenue.
16.46 The police assaulted the crowd that was gathered at Mis Street once again. Sporadic confrontations continued.
17.00 The police attacked and battered the journalists who were trying to record images. One person was reported to have been taken into custody.
17.01 The police attacked the crowd who were trying to enter İstiklal Avenue from the Taksim Square entrance. The crowd retreated towards Sıraselviler Street. The police continued their tear gas and pressurized water attacks.
17.03 The police attacked LGBTIs who were waiting in front of the Galatasaray High School with tear gas and pressurized water. The crowd retreated towards Tunnel. Police violence continued.
17.05 The crowd which had moved to Tarlabaşı gathered again. Thousands marched towards Taksim Square.
17.08 HDP’s Istanbul MP Filiz Kerestecioğu participated in the Pride Parade as well. The police assaulted Kerestecioğlu.
17.20 HDP MPs Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Beyza Üstün and Sezai Temelli and CHP MP Mahmut Tanal held hands in front of the police barricade and demanded that attacks be stopped. The police attacked the MPs and the crowd in the vicinity with plastic bullets.
17.22 Following the police attack at Hasnun Galip Street, one person was wounded. Thousands filled the streets leading to İstiklal Avenue. The crowd roamed the side streets trying to reach the Avenue, chanting slogans.
17.39 The police attacked once more the crowd who were marching towards and gathering in Taksim Square. The crowd retreated towards Talimhane.
17.48 The police blocked the members of the famous Boston Gay Men’s Chorus from entering İstiklal Avenue.
17.52 The police attacked once again the crowd who were gathering at Sıraselviler Street. The crowd responded by barricading themselves and throwing plastic soda bottles. Some of the crowd at Sıraselviler marched towards Cihangir.
18.05 MPs from HDP and CHP read a press statement at Taksim Square under a rainbow flag with regards to the police attack against the Pride Parade.
18.12 HDP Istanbul MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu talked with Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin on the phone. Governor Şahin declared: “We won’t allow them to march because of Ramadan.”
18.26 CHP and HDP MPs read a statement in Taksim Square. HDP’s Musa Piroğlu said: “This nation hosts many people who have been othered. [This sentence has a dual meaning: “This nation has othered many people.” -Trans.] This assault was against all of us. The Istanbul Police Force is almost saying ‘We are ISIL’.” The crowd began their march towards İstiklal Avenue following the statement. In tandem with the march, the crowds nearby began gathering on İstiklal Street.
18.35 The crowd, which had moved towards Harbiye following the police attack in Taksim Square gathered together once again. Hundreds of people closed the road to traffic and began marching towards Şişli. The crowd at İstiklal Avenue gathered together as well. Thousands chanted “Don’t remain silent, scream LGBTs exist.” Ayşe Erdem, HDP’s co-chair, supported the LGBTIs as well.
18.39 The crowd who began marching along with HDP MPs moved to Tünel [Activist correction- MPs marched until Galatasaray]. Here, it was reported that Sendika.Org journalist Murat Karadeniz was wounded by police with a plastic bullet on his eyebrow. Karadeniz was taken to the hospital.
18.46 Police began once more their attack on the crowd at Mis Street with tear gas.
19.05 The police stopped the crowd who had blocked traffic and was marching towards Şişli. TOMAs [militarized police vehicles -Trans.] announced “Disperse”. The crowd responded by chanting.
19.10 Many were affected by the intense tear gas deployed during the attack at Galatasaray.
19.29 The police attacked the crowd once again while a press statement was being read.
19.40 The 23rd LGBTI Pride Week Parade participants did not disperse despite police assaults. The crowd, who were resisting for hours, marched towards the Tunnel. The protest ended here with a press statement stating: “We are everywhere, get used to it, we are not leaving.”
19.47 The police attacked the crowd which had already dispersed with batons, plastic bullets, and pressurized water.
22.00 The Pride Week celebration party at Tünel was attacked [by police].
23.00 [Police] attacked the street where the closing party [held in a privately owned bar -Trans.] was taking place. The participants took refuge in the terrace.

We have utilized the information passed on by our correspondents and by ETHA, and sendika.org.

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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Police Detain Trans Women in Malatya on Grounds of ‘Reasonable Suspicion!’

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Malatya’da translara yönelik ‘makul şüphe’ gözaltısı!” (“Police Interns Trans Women in Malatya on Grounds of ‘Reasonable Suspicion!’”), KaosGL.org, December 19, 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18297

Police Detain Trans Women in Malatya on grounds of “Reasonable suspicion!”

Police conducted house raids on the residences of trans women in Malatya. One trans woman was forced out of a taxi and taken into custody. Local sources speculate that the new “reasonable suspicion” standard on police searches is the reason behind the recently increased pressure on trans women.

After the Legislative Package 6572 – a series of amendments to various laws on Judicial Procedures, also known as the “judicial package” by the public – was signed into law by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, trans women’s homes were raided before they were taken into custody. One trans woman was also forced out of a cab before being apprehended by the police.

The law, which reduced the standard of “strong suspicion” for police searches to “reasonable suspicion”, was criticized by public figures as a step towards becoming a “police state.”

House Raids and Apprehension from Taxi

As the public debate on the new law continues, trans women’s homes were raided yesterday (December 18th, 2014). Two trans women were arrested by the police under allegations of “prostitution.” The same day, another trans woman was forced out of a taxi before being taken to a police station.

Insult and Psychological Abuse at the Police Station

Emir Çoban, a member of the Malatya Youth Initiative against Homophobia and Transphobia, says the police applied psychological abuse and insulted the apprehended women repeating such slurs as, “Do you get your ass fucked? Are you a fag? Are you queer?”

After anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia activists showed up at the police station and demanded that their friends be released, the trans women were allowed to leave.

The right to shelter is being infringed upon

Çoban, in his assessment for KaosGL.org, told of the increasing pressure on trans sex workers in Malatya. Çoban protested, “they used to raid houses during the night, but now they do it in broad daylight.” Çoban reported that the police raided at least one trans home every week and apprehended the residents.

Çoban added that these raids infringed on trans women’s right to shelter and housing. He said, “We have to constantly change homes.”

According to Çoban, the increase in raids and apprehensions might be connected to the new “reasonable suspicion” standard.

Journalist Yıldız Tar: The police beat me

Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Gazeteci Yıldız Tar: Polisler beni dövdü” (“Journalist Yıldız Tar: The police beat me”). T24, 10 October 2014, http://t24.com.tr/haber/polisler-beni-dovdu,273415, accessed on 15/10/2014.

Yıldız Tar, who was beaten by the civil police during protests for Kobane, recounted their experience to T24.

Yıldız Tar[1], the editor of Kaos GL, claimed that they were assaulted by the police during an intervention involving pepper spray while covering the sit-in held in Galatasaray Square to protest the siege of Kobane, Syria by ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).

“When I said I was a reporter, they ran away”

Yıldız Tar: “Police had begun to push the protesters away from Galatasaray Square towards Tophane. At that moment I saw somebody get injured and taken to hospital in an ambulance. I encountered strong police intervention as I was trying to record the incident. They beat me. They ran away when I told them that I was a reporter.”

Journalist Tar pointed out that, during the protest, the police were particularly tough on those working for independent media. It has been claimed that, during the Kobane protests in Izmir, the police told a reporter from Dicle News Agency[2]: “I know you, I know who you are, choose your side, go there or stay here.”

[1] In Tar’s words, Yıldız Tar was born in 2010 at Bosphorus University as they rejected the name and the gender assigned to them by their family and the society. They are an activist working with Lambdaistanbul and a reporter writing for independent media outlets. … They hate writing their autobiography and can get quite irritable when labeled as a woman or a man. (Source)

[2] An independent Kurdish news agency.

Demet Yanardağ: “Turns out I had to pay off the state to be a prostitute”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Orospu olmak için devlete para yedirmem gerekiyormuş,” (“‘Turns out I had to pay off the state to be a prostitute”), KaosGL, 16 September 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17534

“It turns out that in order to be a prostitute in this country, I had to pay money to the state within the framework of the Law of Misdemeanors, grease the palms of the mafia as well as the police and at times, sleep with people for free.”

Below is the interview we conducted with Demet Yanardağ, from the Black Pink Triangle Association, where she recounts the difficulties she faced in her working life as well as the nature of sex work.

Yanardağ explains that she chose to study tourism and hotel management at university thinking that this was a relatively easy line of work where she would not be discriminated against. However, she says that “things did not work out quite as she [I] thought.”

demetyanardag

“Men think you are a sex doll”

“I thought that someone like me could work in the tourism industry, that I wouldn’t encounter people judging me. I graduated and soon found out that this would not be the case. Not a single hotel would hire me as an intern. I couldn’t find an internship. Then, a close friend of mine arranged for me to start interning at a five-star hotel. During my internship, both the hotel clients and the staff harassed me incessantly. People kept offering sexual relations in a way that could be considered harassment. That’s when I understood that if you are a trans individual, you have to be a sex worker. If you are employed in other lines of work, you will be harassed much more so than biological females. People see you as a potential sex doll. When men get boners, they see you like sex dolls they could use to satisfy themselves.”

As Yanardağ was continually harassed by hotel clients and staff, she thought to herself, “society allocates this role to me; I must be a prostitute.” Here is how she decided to become a sex worker:

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Interview with Zeugmadi LGBTI: “Captain, the queers are conducting a peace demonstration; what shall we do?”

Yıldız Tar, “Amirim, LGBT’ler barış eylemi yapıyor ne yapalım?” (“Captain, the queers are conducting a peace demonstration; what shall we do?”) Kaos GL, 06 September 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=17470

We discussed Zeugmadi LGBTI’s first year with Cemre: “We are organizing in the neighborhoods referred to as slums. With Zeugmadi, I feel that I am becoming free. Wherever there are LGBTI people, that is where we too must be. It is not just an LGBTI issue; hatred of Syrians is our issue as well.”

The September 1st, 2014 World Peace Day demonstration

Quite some time has passed since Kaos GL began to organize activities in a number of cities, calling them “Local Steps Against Homophobia”. Beginning with a few cities, the activities have spread all over Turkey. The slogan “We don’t want the ghettos, we want the whole city” has begun to be realized.

With the establishment of LGBTI organizations in a number of cities, especially in recent years, the perception that the fight against heterosexism is confined to Beyoğlu has been demolished. One of these organizations, called Zeugmadi, began about one year ago in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. Using in its logos the emblem of Antep, a Gypsy girl whose sex is barely perceptible, Zeugmadi LGBTI has said throughout the year: “We’re in Antep, buddy.”

Painting Antep’s streets with the colors of the rainbow, Zeugmadi LGBTI hosted a series of activities in honor of its first year. The culmination of these activities, however, was its participation in a September 1st World Peace Day gathering, on the anniversary of Antep’s LGBTI organizations’ coming out on the street.

While the LGBTI community, on the one hand, were marching to their slogan “Homosexuals will not be silent”, the police walkie-talkies were not silent at all. We heard police say, through their walkie-talkies as they were standing just beyond the journalists who were following the story, the question “Captain, these queers are conducting a peace demonstration. What shall we do?”  Zeugmadi LGBTI was not the only one organizing the demonstration. Nevertheless, one of the gathering’s most enthusiastic and sizable groups was the LGBTI participants.

After the demonstration, upon a invitation by İlkyaz Şikayetçileri (“Spring Malcontents”), the stairways of Yeşilsu were painted with the colors of the rainbow. At one point, the shopkeepers nearby joined in the painting effort. A one-year organized effort has carried the freedom march one step forward.

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Levent Pişkin: “It was not me; it was the state of being a fag* that was judged”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Levent Pişkin: Ben Değil İbnelik Yargılandı” (“Levent Pişkin: It was not me; it was the state of being a fag that was judged.”) KaosGL.org, 28 May 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16699

Levent Pişkin, the LGBTI activist who received a pecuniary penalty for insulting the Prime Minister commented: “It was not me; it was ibnelik* that was judged… Intent is paramount in cases of defamation. It is with which intent you utter a phrase that determines the insult.”

Levent Pişkin was sentenced to a pecuniary fine of 1500 TL (720 USD) as a result of the “fag” tweet defamation case filed by the Prime Minister. In an atmosphere of hate, in which insulting, hate-mongering, minority targeting publications such as Yeni Akit go unpunished; a “fag” citizen’s demand for an explanation from the head of the executive, legislative and even the judiciary branches of the state was penalized.

Pişkin who said, “it was not me, it was faggotry being judged” had also filed a criminal complaint, which was dismissed by the court. We talked to Pişkin about the proceedings as well as the legal and social implications of the case.

Pişkin said there had to be intent in order for him to be punished for insult. A “fag” himself, he reminded us that he could not possibly have used the word “fag” as an insult.

Pişkin added that he would refile the criminal complaint against Prime Minister Erdoğan and that he will continue his struggle for “faggotry” in every medium.

levent_piskin

 

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