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[VIDEO] AI: Blocking of İstanbul LGBTI march latest blow to right to freedom of expression in Turkey

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Amnesty International (AI) said on Monday that a ban by the İstanbul Governor’s Office on the İstanbul Pride Parade, which was planned to be held in Taksim Square on Sunday, is another example of a blow to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Turkey.

In a statement from its website on Monday, AI said: “The repeated blocking of the Pride March in recent years is yet another example of the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and difference, the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey in general, and the authorities’ failure to uphold LGBTI rights.

Underlining that Turkish police used “excessive and unnecessary” force against people who attempted to march peacefully, AI noted that the event had been successfully held annually for over a decade and attracted tens of thousands of participants.

At least 35 LGBT activists were detained on Sunday for attempting to march in İstanbul’s famed Taksim Square to mark one of the largest organized gay festivals in Turkey.

Turkish media outlets and several pro-LGBT twitter accounts reported that police fired plastic bullets at a group of around 40 activists and that a heavy police presence stopped people from entering İstiklal Street, where the rally was scheduled to start.

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.

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