200 arrested during the Istanbul Pride march

200 arrested during the Istanbul Pride march

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Turkish police arrested nearly 200 people taking part in the Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride March on Sunday. Journalists were arrested.

The Turkish police brutally arrested more than 200 people, activists and journalists, including an AFP photographer at the LGBTQ+ Pride March in Istanbul on Sunday.

Even before the start of the rally, riot police carried out a first heavy raid on several bars and on the streets of the Cihangir district, around the emblematic Taksim square, arresting “randomly” people who were there, found AFP.

According to the count of the organizers of the march, some 200 people in total were apprehended in several waves and began to be gradually released in the early evening.

Banned every year

The NGO Kaos GL, which campaigns for the promotion and protection of LGBTQ+ people, had previously counted “more than 150” arrests in the afternoon.

Amnesty International called for their “unconditional and immediate release” on Twitter.

As every year now, the Pride March had been officially banned by the city’s governor, but hundreds of demonstrators waving rainbow flags gathered in the streets adjacent to Taksim Square, which is completely closed to the public.

“You will never be alone!”

Chanting “The future is queer!”, “You will never be alone!” or “We are here, we are queer, we will not go anywhere else!”, the demonstrators then marched for a little over an hour in the streets of the Cihangir district, supported by residents posted at the windows.

Those arrested were driven in police vans to Istanbul’s main police station, an AFP videographer noted.

AFP journalist arrested

“They try to ban us, to prevent us, to discriminate against us and even to kill us every minute of our existence,” Diren, 22, told AFP.

“But today is an opportunity to defend our rights, to shout that we exist: you will never be able to stop queers”, adds Diren, using the term which designates any form of altersexuality and refutes the biological definition of gender.

According to several witnesses, the police tried to prevent the press from filming the arrests.

Bülent Kilic, an experienced and award-winning AFP photographer familiar with conflict zones, was handcuffed behind his back, his T-shirt ripped off, and loaded into a police van with others. He had already been arrested last year in the same circumstances.

100,000 people in 2014

On Twitter, the press defense organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regretted that the Turkish authorities seem “to have gotten into the habit of arresting AFP photojournalist Bülent Kilic”.

“Despite three convictions pronounced by the Constitutional Court in the last three years, the security forces continue to abuse and arbitrarily detain journalists. Unfortunately, the administration has become accustomed to disregarding the decisions of the Court nor of the law”, added its representative Erol Onderoglu.

After a spectacular parade in 2014 of more than 100,000 people in Istanbul, Turkish authorities banned the Pride parade year after year, officially for security reasons.

On Friday, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, had called on “the Istanbul authorities to lift the ban in force on the Pride March and to guarantee the safety of peaceful demonstrators”. “The human rights of LGBT people in Turkey must be protected,” she added, calling for “an end to (their) stigma”.

Decathlon boycotted in Turkey for its support for LGBT +

Homosexuality, decriminalized in Turkey since the middle of the 19th century (1858), has not been banned but remains largely subject to the social opprobrium and hostility of the ruling Islamic-conservative party, the AKP, and that of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A minister once called homosexuals “crazy”.

In 2020, the Netflix platform had been forced to give up the production of a series in Turkey because it presented a gay character and had not obtained the green light from the authorities.

The same year, the French brand of sports equipment and clothing Decathlon had been the subject of calls for a boycott in Turkey for having conveyed messages of support for the LGBTQ + communities in its campaigns.

With AFP

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