Turkish gov’t bans upcoming Women’s Day celebrations in Diyarbakır

The Turkish government has banned celebrations of the upcoming International Women’s Day in Diyarbakır province, Kurdistan24 reported on Wednesday.

According to the report the Turkish governor of the predominantly Kurdish-populated province of Diyarbakır on Wednesday rejected a request for permission to hold celebrations for International Women’s Day on March 8.

The Diyarbakır Women’s Platform, the local chamber of the Medical, Education and Science Workers Union and the Confederation of Public Employee Trade Unions (KESK) said their members wanted to hold rallies in public spaces from March 1 to March 10.

In response, the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office said all public meetings, rallies, marches, sit-ins, civic activities, statements to the press and protests were prohibited, the privately owned pro-government Doğan news agency reported.

Gülsen Özbek, a spokesperson for the Diyarbakır Women’s Platform, said her organization along with others would file an objection to the ban.

Critics and opposition parties argue that  Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration uses a state of emergency that was declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 to curtail freedoms and clamp down on civil society.

Unlike in many countries, International Women’s Day is not a public holiday in Turkey, although the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have in the past proposed bills to make it one. The opposition’s campaigns in the Turkish Parliament dominated by Erdoğan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) have all failed thus far.

In recent years, rallies held despite bans across the country have turned violent, with police arresting scores of participants and using rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

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