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Police ‘violently arrest 370 people’ trying to attend banned Istanbul Pride

Emma Flint June 27, 2022
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A Turkish policeman detains a demonstrator during a Pride march in Istanbul

A Turkish policeman detains a demonstrator during a Pride march in Istanbul. (Getty)

Turkish police blocked, assaulted and arrested hundreds of people trying to attend Istanbul’s annual Pride march.

Police in riot gear cracked down on Pride celebrations on Sunday (26 June), after politicians announced on 20 June they were banning all Pride-related events for a week.

In images circulating on social media, police can be seen in full riot gear while metal fences cordon off streets in and surrounding Taksim Square in Istanbul. To try to prevent the march, metro services were shut down for several hours.

Kaos GL, one of the largest LGBT+ rights groups in Turkey, said that arrests started to be made prior to the intended 5pm march start.

Riot police began to enter bars and other local venues, allegedly arresting people “at random”.

Before the march’s planned start it was reported that 52 had been detained. Kaos GL said on Monday (27 June) that in total, 373 people were arrested and released after a night in custody.

Neither the police nor the governor’s office has given any official numbers regarding the arrests.

According to AFP journalists, four busloads of detained protesters were taken away. Among them was the outlet’s chief photographer, Bulent Kilic; AFP journalists reporting from the march said that police tried to prevent them from filming any arrests.

Despite police attempts, a sea of images soon started to appear across social media of the unfolding scenes.

DISK Basin-Is, a journalist union, said that many of the protesters were physically attacked and beaten by police.

 

The march, planned to celebrate 30 years of Pride in Istanbul, was banned on 20 June under the Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings.

The governor’s office said in a statement: “We have obtained information that between 21 June 2022 (Tuesday) and 23 June 2022 (Thursday) gatherings, press releases, marches, distribution of leaflets, etc are planned to be held within the scope of the 30th ‘Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week.”

The Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride Week Committee issued a statement shortly after the announcement, saying that the decision was “illegal” and that they would use “our rights [to] make the necessary objections”.

Istanbul has banned Pride marches since 2015, though large crowds have gathered in years in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

While political opposition is strong, France24 reported that local residents showed solidarity with the protesters by banging pans from their windows and balconies.

Despite the unrest, Kaos GL is defiant. “We do not give up, we are not afraid,” the group said in a statement.

More: Istanbul

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