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Stop the violence and listen to the people in Turkey: Statements by feminist groups part of the Taksim Gezi park resistance movement

18 June 2013

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DECLARATION by WOMEN’S COALITION TURKEY
WE ARE CALLING UPON THE GOVERNMENT: IMMEDIATELY STOP POLICE VIOLENCE AND THE AGGRESSIVE, THREATENING AND CONDENSCENDING ATTITUDE AGAINST THE PEOPLE

The peaceful sit-in began to counter planned construction at the Taksim Gezi park, which would replace one of downtown Istanbul’s few green spaces with a shopping mall, has evolved into nationwide demonstrations and people’s resistance as a result of the brutal police violence and firing with tear gas and water cannons on the protestors.Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoan’s disrespect for the universal human rights and related laws, his condescending attitude and the style of language he continually uses about the demonstrators, added further to the growing discontent and demonstrations in a very short period of time.

This attitude, which have further narrowed down the space for basic rights and freedoms and which that continues to ignore people?s right to assembly and participation has caused people to take refuge on the streets in thousands of numbers. Regretfully, the Prime Minister continues to view every differing views, protests and demonstrators as ’secret enemy forces’,’marjinals’, and as ’traitors’ and thus reflects an extreme intolerance for any form of dissent. He has also encouraged the society to divide as two opposing poles by calling the demonstrators as ’others’ with hidden interests to topple his government. We believe on the contrary that Taksim Gezi Park resistance offers a good opportunity to listen and to construct a much stronger peace and social solidarity environment in Turkey. The government needs further to withdraw from an attitude and from using a terminology that continually criminalize the peaceful demonstrators.
The street demonstrations and people’s demands are regarded by the government as criminal and unlawful, justifying for the growing police brutality. If people’s demands are continued to be ignored and violence against the demonstrators sustained, we believe that the damage will escalate further, more innocent people will get hurt, and, the state of things may reach a point of no return. We would like to remind that all governments gain legitimacy not only by the number of votes they receive, but, from the degree of respect they pay to basic human rights and freedoms and to their protection. In this connection, we invite, primarily, the Prime Minister and the members of his government, to act responsibly in securing human and individual rights by the removal of the police from all civil demonstration locations, stopping police brutality that has been exercised against the people, and, eliminating all excessive use of the very aggressive, separationist and condenscending language style and the attitude that appears to have been widely adopted at the highest level of the government.

It should be remembered that it is the prime responsibility of the state to secure and protect basic human rights and freedoms, under all conditions.

WOMEN’S COALITION TURKEY
www.kadinkoalisyonu.org

o o o

PRESS STATEMENT

by Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) - NEW WAYS

We Demand a Truly Democratic Government Respectful of a Participatory System based on Freedom and Peace!
We will Continue to Resist the Authoritarian and Sexist Policies of the Turkish Government!

As one of the 79 members of Taksim Solidarity Platform on Gezi Park, Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR)-New Ways continues to insist on the following demands of the Platform:

  • Gezi Park must remain a Park.
  • All those who were detained across Turkey during the protests for exercising one of their most fundamental democratic rights—the right to assemble and demonstrate—must be released immediately and not be subject to prosecution.
  • All police and officials, who used or ordered the use of violence on protesters that resulted in two deaths, grave injuries such as head trauma and sight loss of almost 50 people, and wounded over 4,500 must be investigated, prosecuted and those responsible should be removed from duty,
  • The use of gas bombs and related materials must be banned.
  • All public squares throughout Turkey should be opened to peaceful demonstrations.

These demands were jointly formulated by a very large and pluralistic community. While PM Erdoğan persistently fails to see this fact, his authoritarian and alienating statements with zero respect for democracy have resulted in police brutality, leading millions of citizens across the country to rush to public squares to defend their most fundamental human rights and dignity. Youth, environmentalists, women’s activists, health workers, teachers, lawyers, academics, unionized and non-union workers, Non Governmental Organizations, citizens, the faithful and non-believers, LGBTIQ individuals, artists, athletes, animal lovers, homemakers, soccer fans, professional organizations - women and men from all segments of the society have united at peaceful street demonstrations nationwide. All these groups and individuals came together to safeguard fundamental human rights and freedoms and have succeeded in bringing issues such as equality, democracy, pluralism and diversity to top of the agenda in Turkey, for which rights-based organizations have been advocating for decades.

Women are on the frontlines of the resistance

In terms of democracy, equality and freedoms, this resistance is especially meaningful and important to us as women. According to data compiled by the Istanbul Feminist Collective, at least three women are murdered daily in Turkey by a male member of their family or an ex-partner, although a large number of them have filed for protection orders against the perpetrators. While these murders are ongoing, PM Erdoğan continually makes public statements that he "does not believe in gender equality." In addition, the government is becoming increasingly vocal in its discourses and policy initiatives that infringe on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Especially in the last five years as women’s rights organizations, our struggle has transformed from efforts to advance our rights to preserving our existing, hard-earned rights.

The “State Ministry Responsible for Women’s Affairs” was abolished and turned into “Ministry of Family and Social Policies” in 2012, as governmental policies have been geared towards confining women to the roles of “wife and mother” rather than “empowering them as equal individuals.” PM Erdoğan has been publicly urging women to have three (or even five) children, and has attempted to ban abortion, which has been legal up to ten weeks in Turkey since 1983. Although we, as the women’s movement, have succeeded in halting the attempt of the PM to ban abortion also thanks to international support we have mobilized, it has become very difficult women to exercise their right to abortion in practice. Presently, abortion services are not provided to women in many public hospitals throughout Turkey. Women who visit public healthcare clinics for pregnancy tests or abortions are being codified, and in some cases, their parents or spouses are being informed without prior consent. The state services to provide information and counseling on contraceptive methods have become very restricted.
Turkey ranks the lowest among all OECD countries in terms of women’s employment, and while the government has pledged to improve Turkey’s status in this respect, at the same time it continues to develop and implement contradictory policies to this promise, such as policies that encourage women to “work part-time” or work as are home-based workers, which are clearly discriminatory against women.

PM Erdoğan also continues its attacks on women’s rights based on “morality” norms, in relation to how “girls” or women have to behave in public. The sexist discourses and actions of the PM and his government that seek to impede women’s basic women’s rights and freedoms, are simply an organic extension of the authoritarian social engineering they displayed against the Gezi Park protesters. Thus, today, women from all walks of life have risen against these discourses and policies, and taken a place on the frontlines of this resistance to defend their rights.

We Demand a Truly Democratic Government Respectful of a Participatory System based on Freedom and Peace!
We will Continue to Resist the Authoritarian and Sexist Policies of the Turkish Government!
We urge the Prime Minister and the government to hear our voice, and urgently establish a respectful and constructive dialogue process to take the necessary steps and meet our democratic and legitimate demands!

Women for Women’s Human Rights-New Ways
newways at wwhr.org

SEE ALSO:

SACW SPECIAL ON TAKSIM SQUARE PROTESTS IN TURKEY
:: a compilation of relevant commentary for readers in South Asia
14 June 2013
http://www.sacw.net/article4730.html

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