Jun 052013

Turkey Pride – What is the purpose of the
armed soldiers? asks paula.

Letter from Istanbul LGBT Pride Committee: source http://oblogdeeoblogda.me

Dear All

We, as the Istanbul LGBT Pride Committee are writing this letter in order to inform you about the latest difficulties we are facing by organizing the Istanbul LGBT Pride March,the biggest LGBT pride march in the Middle East and Balkan regions and to invite you to support us and walk with us.

Istanbul LGBT Pride activities in Istanbul are organized since 2003 and celebrated on the streets since 10 years with growing numbers. However the latest political developments have raised crucial concerns for both the organizers and the LGBT community in Turkey.

Taksim Square and Istiklal Street, both are under construction for renovation and pedestrianisation, have been closed down to any politic and dissident protests as well as human rights demonstrations after May 1, 2013. Activists and demonstrators are subjected to extreme use of force by the police. The use of tear gas, water cannon and physical violence by the police to disperse demonstrators also affected citizens on Istiklal Street and Taksim Square. Without any consideration of daily activities of these citizens, the police use tear gas, water cannon, and physical violence to any group after May 1, 2013.

Personal Rights and Obligations of the Turkish Constitution states that everyone has right to organize unarmed and nonviolent meetings and protest marches without obtaining prior permission (Article 34), and everyone has right to express and disseminate his or her thought and opinion by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively (Article 26). Governorship, representative authority of government in province, severely violates the freedom of speech and right to protest. To this day large number of people have affected by tear gas and violence by the police during the protest marches and demonstrations.

After the use of severe violence by the police, construction and renovation in the area used as an excuse to prevent protest marching and to justify the access prevented toTaksim Square on May 1, 2013. In addition to that all local public transportation services were cancelled by thegovernorship. People were prevented to access meeting points for protest marching and people who gathered together were subjected to violence by the police. However, the same governorship and government allowed celebrations after the soccer games at the same place even though it was still under construction. This is a violation of the right to oppose and offering an opposition is very essential to democracy.

Increased conservatism, police swoops to houses and movie theaters against LGBT individuals, reluctance of the policeto the violence against transgender women, and homophobic and transfobic expressions by members of governing party in the Turkish National Assembly present serious threats to the LGBT individuals and their personal and social rights. Under these circumstances LGBT Pride Week and Pride Parade that will be held in Turkey 21.times this year faces an issue of violence and provocation. Last year twenty thousand LGBT individuals attended the Parade and the information obtained from governorship indicates that this year LGBT Pride Parade will be obstructed. The right to organize unarmed and nonviolent meetings and protest marches without obtaining prior permission will be violated unlawfully.

Under the circumstances, we would like to walk with thousand people again on Taksim Square 21. times this year to defend the rights of LGBT individuals and to express and raise our voicebeing ignored by the Turkish National Law. We would like to say, “ We are here and we want to live” and we would like to walk again to say “ LGBT rights are human rights.” We value and care about international support in order to make this Pride Week and Parade come true in a peaceful, enthusiastic atmosphere, and not to face police violence.

We hope that you would walk with us throughout Istiklal Street on June 30, 2013 Sunday at 17:00 to show your support to LGBT individuals in Turkey and you would honor our Parade to contribute our campaign for human rights.

 With Solidarity,

 21. LGBT Pride Week Committee




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