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Istanbul Pride Tear Gassed by Police

by our Editors in Lifestyle & Fashion , 20 augustus 2015

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

The Turkish police have used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against participants of Istanbul Pride. Governor Vasip Sahin of Istanbul had banned the Pride demonstration at a moment’s notice because of the Ramadan. Last year, Istanbul Pride also coincided with the Ramadan, but then it was not a reason to ban the Pride.

With strong-arm tactics, the police managed to prevent the participants to gather on the central Taksim square. Smaller marchers were now spontaneously (and perforce) held in the side streets of Taksim square. “We fled into the smaller streets to save our skin,” PvdA council member Emre Ünver, who was there on behalf of the City of Amsterdam, said. “What I mostly feel is incomprehension. It should have been a great day.”

In a statement on their Facebook page, the organisers of Istanbul Pride wrote: ‘WE ARE HERE, GET USED TO IT, WE ARE NOT LEAVING! LOVE WINS!’ In vain, they asked governor Sahin to put a stop to the intervention of the police, as their actions were contrary to the Turkish Constitution in which the right to demonstrate is guaranteed.

Among the participants of the Pride demonstration were MPs of the opposition, including Sezgin Tanrikulu (CHP) and Mayor Murat Haznedar of Besiktas – as well as the Consul general of the United Kingdom, France and the United States. It appeared that journalist reporting on the 'riots' were also harassed by the police.

The crackdown was continued during the evening at various Pride events that were held at numerous locations in Istanbul. EU parliamentarian Terry Reintke reported that tear gas was used, but that ‘in spite of tearing eyes, people continued dancing’.

The police violence has been condemned by the Intergroup on LGBT Rights of the European Parliament. Eberhard van der Laan, the mayor of Amsterdam, stated that he was appalled by the irregularities and promised that Amsterdam will send a heavy delegation to Istanbul next year.

Istanbul Pride is held since 2003 – with only a few tens of participants - but the event has now attracted some fifty thousand participants. Thus, Istanbul Pride has become the largest Pride demonstration in a mostly Islamic country. This was the first time that the Turkish authorities acted violently during the Pride.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 327, November 2018

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