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Turkish police break up Int’l Women’s Day march, detain at least 10 in İstanbul

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Turkish police used pepper spray to disperse hundreds of women who had gathered in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood on Wednesday evening for the 21st Feminist Night March on the occasion of International Women’s Day, detaining at least 10 of them, the T24 news website reported.

The women gathered in İstiklal Street on Wednesday evening despite a ban imposed by the Beyoğlu district governor’s office earlier in the day for all kinds of demonstrations and marches in the area including the women’s day march.

A press statement titled, “We are sorry, we are angry,” was read out on behalf of the group in Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic in which Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was criticized for failing to handle a range of crises and problems including ongoing economic deterioration, the coronavirus pandemic, major earthquakes that hit the country’s south last month, claiming more than 46,000 lives, and increasing racism and promoting LGBT+ hatred and patriarchy.

They also slammed the government for its decision in 2021 to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty aimed at fighting domestic violence despite widespread violence against the women in the country.

The statement said the feminist women are determined to continue their fight against patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, exploitation of labor and capitalism.

The women chanted slogans calling on the government to resign.

“We are not going to be silent, we will not be intimidated, and we are not obeying you,” the women said.

Every year thousands of women gather in Taksim Square for the “Feminist Night March,” which marks the continuation of the world-famous “Reclaim the Night” movement, despite bans from authorities and police violence and detention.

In order to prevent the women from easily traveling to the area, the İstanbul Governor’s Office had closed the Taksim metro station, the Şişhane metro station’s İstiklal Avenue exit and the Taksim-Kabataş funicular railway as of midday Wednesday, and police set up barricades in the area to prevent the women’s access.

Thousands of protesters have been marching along İstiklal Street in Taksim on the night of March 8 since 2003 to denounce violence against women in Turkey, where at least 327 women were killed by men last year, and demand equal rights for women. The “Feminist Night March” has witnessed confrontations between protestors and police in past years as the police wanted to prevent the protestors from holding the march.

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