German politicians among those arrested for banned Istanbul Pride demonstration
A German MEP is among some 19 who were detained for holding a Pride demonstration in Istanbul despite a Government ban.
Police in Turkey detained Terry Reintke, a Green MEP from Germany, as well as two other Green politicians, Max Lucks, the speaker of the Green Youth in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia and Felix Banaszak, the Green party speaker in Duisburg.
Reintke was only briefly detained, but Banaszak and Lucks remain in custody, it is reported.
Volker Beck, an LGBT activist was also arrested. He said: “Police snatched my passport and shoved me… What we have seen here was a massive and arbitrary police attack.”
The demonstration went ahead despite the organisers of Istanbul Pride having issued a statement yesterday calling off the demonstration citing security concerns as well as a Government ban.
Organisers tweeted to say that at least 19 people had been detained.
Watch a video of Reintke being detained below:
Officials in Turkey earlier last week ordered that the capital’s Pride parade be cancelled – claiming the ban was because of ‘security’ concerns following a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando which left 49 dead.
Last week, when demonstrators took to the streets, over 300 police officers were deployed to the scene in riot gear. A water cannon was also seen at the site of the march.
According to reports, one man tore up a pro gay-rights banner.
During a “scuffle” as was described by the BBC, police opened fire with tear gas, using rubber bullets.
Last year’s Istanbul Pride was also forcibly dispersed by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
When the march was banned, Istanbul Pride’s organisers said it was a “flagrant violation of the constitution and the law”.
Far-right groups in Turkey had issued repeated threats against LGBT rights activists following events in Orlando.
Organiser Ömer Akpinar told the Independent: “This is a continuation of the story that started last year when the police attacked gay activists.
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“Police waited for people to get together, then used tear gas.”
He added: “The LGBT community in Turkey is a little divided about whether people should march or not.
“It’s not only about this latest threat of ultra-nationalists who might attack people, but if you look at the recent history of Turkey, we’ve had so many bombings and attacks.
“So people are afraid it might be an occasion for IS or another terrorist group to kill thousands of people.”
In the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May said that Pride events this month would go ahead with extra security measures, following the attack in Orlando.