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Amnesty says Women’s Day march in İstanbul must go ahead without bans, police violence

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Ahead of tonight’s 21st International Women’s Day night march in İstanbul, Amnesty International has called on Turkish authorities not to ban the event and to ensure participants are protected when marching instead of being harassed and attacked by the police.

“For the last seven years, Istanbul’s International Women’s Day march has been banned and peaceful demonstrators attempting to gather to mark the day have been met with plastic bullets, tear gas and police batons, as well as unlawful detention and prosecution,” said Esther Major, Amnesty International’s senior research advisor in Europe.

“Tonight’s march must be able to go ahead without the bans, beatings and other police violence that have marred previous years. Rather than restricting the march, Turkish authorities must instead enable and protect the marchers as well as take action to put an end to the multiple forms of discrimination and gender-based violence in Türkiye,” she said.

In previous years, the İstanbul Governor’s Office banned the International Women’s Day march at the last minute. Participants of the march who defied the ban faced violence, intimidation and police detention as well as baseless prosecution simply for exercising their right to freedom of assembly, guaranteed under binding human rights conventions Turkey is party to.

“Peaceful protestors’ calls for action to protect human rights are particularly relevant and pressing given the context of the current humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the catastrophic earthquakes,” said Major, referring to two powerful earthquakes which hit 11 provinces in Turkey’s south and southeast last month, claiming the lives of more than 46,000 people.

“Amnesty International will be joining the International Women’s Day marches in Istanbul and Ankara. We call on the authorities to ensure that the thousands who gather tonight are protected when they march and their legitimate demands for much needed action on women’s rights implemented,” she added.

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