Police arrest 12 women’s rights activists in southeastern Diyarbakır province

Ozan KOSE / AFP

Turkish police arrested 12 women’s rights activists in southeastern Diyarbakır province on Wednesday morning after raiding their homes, Turkish media reported.

Adalet Kaya from the Diyarbakır-based Rosa Women’s Association, former Diyarbakır co-mayor from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Filiz Buluttekin and Fatma Yıldızhan from the Union of Public Health and Social Services Employees (SES) were included among those who were detained.

Although official sources did not reveal the reason for the detentions, the Bianet news site claimed that it was due to their participation in the International Women’s Day protests on March 8.

SES Diyarbakır subsidiary Express his outrage at the detentions on social media. “Several women, including our secretary Fatma Yıldızhan, were arrested this morning,” they said. “The government is trying to criminalize the women’s movement. However, women will never bow down. Release our friends immediately!

Many women’s organizations have also criticized the detentions on social media. The HDP Women’s Platform said on Twitter that the detentions made it clear the government had no tolerance for women celebrating International Women’s Day.

Ayşe Acar Başaran, an HDP MP, also criticized the government, saying women would not give up demanding equality despite political pressure.

This year’s Women’s Day events took place against the backdrop of heavy-handed police bans and interventions in Istanbul and Ankara.

As in previous years, authorities have declared Taksim and its surroundings as well as the area near the statue of Madenci in Ankara’s Olgunlar Street off-limits to demonstrations. Police cracked down on those gathering to prevent them from holding Women’s Day marches in the two cities, firing tear gas to disperse groups of protesters.

A total of 38 women were arrested during the events in Istanbul, including a group of protesters who were arrested as they tried to board a Bosphorus ferry to join the march.

Protesters in Turkey are using the March 8 Women’s Day events to push for strong measures to prevent violence against women by former partners or family members. At least 73 women have been killed by men in Turkey since the start of the year, according to the We Will Stop Femicide platform.

However, according to experts and activists, the number of unrecorded cases in the country could be much higher because femicides are often categorized as “suicides” or “accidents”.

On July 1, 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially withdrew Turkey from the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, sparking similar protests and widespread international condemnation.

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