by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
International human rights advocates are calling on the Turkish government to protect its Transgender citizens in the wake of two murders of Trans women in recent weeks.
Turkish LGBT group Pembe Hayat (Pink Life), Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) have written an open letter to the Turkish Government, calling for stronger protection for Trans citizens.
The letter details the most recent killing of a Transgender woman on February 16 in Istanbul.
Turkish media reported that Aycan Yener was stabbed 17 times and had her throat cut. Her housemate was also repeatedly stabbed in the attack, but survived.
According to Turkish media, witnesses saw three people fleeing the scene, but no one has been arrested.
On February 8, another Trans woman, identified as Derya Y, was stabbed to death in her home in the southwestern port city of Antalya. Her throat was cut and she was found with multiple stab wounds.
Since November 2008, activists say at least eight Transgender women have been murdered in Ankara, Istanbul, and Antalya.
Turkish police also report recent attacks on Gay men.
On January 28, police found 56-year-old Sinasi Halimoglu dead on his bed with multiple knife wounds to his back and neck. He had reportedly attempted to set up a date with another man.
In two earlier murders of LGBT victims, suspects were caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to life in prison. In two other cases, suspects are in pre-trial detention.
The most recent murders are being investigated. However, activists say little has been done to protect LGBT people in Turkey, especially Transgender people, from future acts of violence.
"Protecting people and preventing violence means more than investigating after the fact," said Human Rights Watch researcher Juliana Cano Nieto. "Without meaningful government action to affirm their rights and ensure their safety, Transgender people in Turkey will continue to live in fear."
"All citizens of Turkey, including Transgender citizens, are entitled to live without fear of murder or persecution," said Hossein Alizadeh, coordinator of IGLHRC's Middle East and North Africa program. "The homophobic killings need to stop, and for this we need the Turkish government to take concrete action to protect Transgender people."
In their letter to the Turkish government, the organizations recommended:
o Enacting anti-discrimination legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity;
o Keeping statistics that specifically document violence against LGBT people; and
o Instituting consistent communication between the police and LGBT rights groups.
In its 2009 Progress Report on Turkey, the European Commission said that Transgender people were still subject to continued violence in Turkey, and that Turkish Criminal Code provisions on "public exhibitionism" and "offences against public morality" allowed police to discriminate against LGBT people.
Turkey's application to join the European Union has been stalled by a number of issues, including European concerns over Turkey's human rights record.
ILGA-Europe will visit Turkey in April to assess Turkey's compliance with its European and international human rights obligations toward LGBT people and to document anti-LGBT violence and discrimination there.
"Turkey is witnessing ongoing violence and hate against LGBT people," said ILGA-Europe's Silvan Agius. "The Turkish government's response needs to address the problems at their roots by tackling the severe stigma against LGBT people, social exclusion and poverty on the one hand, and the culture of gender stereotypes that is driving the violence and hate on the other."
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