Regional appeals court finds violation in bans on 2022 Women’s Day march in İstanbul: report

The İstanbul Regional Court of Appeals has found a rights violation in bans imposed on a march in 2022 to mark International Women’s Day in the city’s Taksim neighborhood, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

Every year thousands of women gather in Taksim Square for the “Feminist Night March,” which marks a continuation of the world-famous “Reclaim the Night” movement, despite bans from authorities and police violence and detention.

The 10th Civil Chamber of the court on Friday deemed the bans imposed by the Istanbul Governor’s Office and the Beyoğlu district governor’s office on the march planned for March 8, 2022 to be a violation of the right to peaceful assembly.

The court decision emphasized the freedom to choose the location or route of organized events as one of the most important elements of the right to peaceful assembly.

It stated that without demonstrating the existence of a necessary social need, any restriction would constitute “disproportionate interference.” The court further said the decision to ban the march was “unlawful” as it failed to demonstrate the presence of a “real danger” and the measures that could be taken without banning the event.

Lawyer Esma Yaşar, who filed the lawsuit for the cancellation of the bans, told the MLSA that the decision could be considered a precedent. Yaşar said that although the decision pertains to the past, it is significant for future violations concerning the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly.

Thousands of protesters have been marching along İstiklal Street in Taksim on the night of March 8 since 2003 to denounce violence against women in Turkey, where at least 315 women were killed last year, and demand equal rights for women. The Feminist Night March has witnessed confrontations between protestors and police in past years as the police wanted to prevent the protestors from holding the march.

As in previous and subsequent years, the authorities declared Taksim and the surrounding areas off-limits for demonstrations or marches to mark International Women’s Day in 2022, too.

Women’s rights organizations have for years been trying to raise awareness about the rise in violence against women that has taken place in the last 20 years. Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.

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