At least 44 people were detained at the LGBT Pride March in İstanbul’s Taksim Square on Sunday, as tension rose after the İstanbul Governor’s Office banned the march. Police took strict measures at the entrance of the square and İstiklal Avenue, carrying out ID checks and searches.
While security forces outnumbered the number of people trying to attend the march, a scuffle reportedly broke out between a group gathered to oppose the march and LGBT activists. Police intervened in the clash and detained seven people protesting against the march, while three activists trying to take part in the march were also detained by police in Taksim.
According to Turkish media outlets and several pro-LGBT twitter accounts, police has also fired plastic bullets at a group of around 40 activists in the country’s largest city. The BBC’s Mark Lowen said that the heavy police presence stopped people from entering İstiklal Avenue, where the rally was scheduled to start.
It was reported that journalist Bram Janssen, an Assosiated Press (AP) reporter covering the attempted march, was among the detainees.
On Saturday, the İstanbul Governor’s Office banned an LGBTI pride parade scheduled to take place in Taksim on June 25, citing security and public order concerns. “The application for the parade was not properly submitted to our office in accordance with Law 2911. There is also serious criticism of this parade from various segments of society on social media,” said the statement issued by the governor’s office.
“In line with our assessment, and taking into consideration the safety of residents and tourists in the area as well as public order, it will not be permitted to hold the parade or to gather and protest on that day, before that day or after that day.”
The organizing committee for LGBTI pride week reacted to the decision of the İstanbul Governor’s Office, saying banning the march contravenes international conventions, Turkish law and the constitution.
Rejecting the statement that they did not submit an appropriate application for the march, the committee said: “We would like to once again underline that we are not in one place but everywhere in the city. We want to speak out, not one day but every day. We say once again: ‘Get used to it, we are here and are not going anywhere’.”
Last Monday, the Alperen Ocakları, an offshoot of Turkish nationalist movement the Grey Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları), announced that they would not allow LGBTI members to hold a pride parade on June 25.
“Even if the government permits it, we will not let them walk,” said Kürşat Mican, İstanbul head of Alperen Ocakları during a program on KRT TV.
“Wherever they walk, we will go there and block the street,” added Mican, who stood trial for threats against LGBTI members ahead of the pride parade last year. A group of NGOs announced on Wednesday that they planned to file a criminal complaint against the head of the nationalist Alperen Ocakları’s İstanbul branch over his statement.
The march had taken place without incident in İstanbul for 13 years, but in June 2015 police attacked it using tear gas and rubber bullets. It was also banned by the İstanbul Governor’s Office in 2016. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) June 25, 2017