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

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Turkish police on Wednesday morning detained 12 women’s rights activists in southeastern Diyarbakır province after raids on 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 Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES) were among those who were detained.

Although official sources have not disclosed the reason for the detentions, the Bianet news website claimed it was due to their participation in International Women’s Day demonstrations on March 8.

The SES Diyarbakır branch expressed its outrage about the detentions on social media. “Several women, including our secretary Fatma Yıldızhan, were detained 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 also criticized the detentions on social media. The HDP women’s platform said on Twitter the detentions clearly indicated that the government had no tolerance for women celebrating International Women’s Day.

Ayşe Acar Başaran, a deputy from the HDP, also criticized the government, saying women would not give up on demanding equality despite political pressure.

Women’s day events this year were held amid bans and heavy-handed police intervention in İstanbul and Ankara.

As in previous years, authorities declared Taksim and its environs as well as the area near the Madenci statue on Ankara’s Olgunlar Street off-limits for demonstrations. Police officers cracked down on those who gathered to prevent them from holding women’s day marches in both cities, firing tear gas to disperse groups of demonstrators.

A total of 38 women were taken into custody in the events in İstanbul, including a group of demonstrators who were detained as they tried to board a ferry across the Bosporus to join the march.

Demonstrators in Turkey use the March 8 Women’s Day events to press 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 far higher as femicides are often filed under “suicides” or “accidents.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 1, 2021, 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, drawing similar protests and widespread international condemnation.

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