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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 27
Turkish police attack Istanbul Pride march, draw international condemnation
Section One
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Turkish police attack Istanbul Pride march, draw international condemnation

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Members of Europe's parliament condemned police violence against Pride marchers in Istanbul at a June 30 press conference. Turkish police used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse Istanbul's Pride march on June 28.

Kati Piri, European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey and member of the parliament's Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, called police action 'unacceptable.'

'Istanbul is a city of diversity and has a long tradition of peaceful pride parades,' she said.

'I very much regret the unacceptable police violence yesterday against all the courageous marchers.'

Isabella Adinolfi MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, backed the Pride marchers and called on Turkey to respect human rights.

'All the courageous marchers, and their allies, who ignored the ban, demonstrated what a 21st century Turkey should look like: full respect for democratic values and fundamental rights,' she said.

'This should play a large role in the accession negotiations, and I am certain that both the Commission and Parliament will take this up in their work with Turkey.'

Parliament member Terry Reintke, also a member of the LGBTI Intergroup said 'It is absurd that after years of peaceful pride marches, the government uses police forces that should have protected the Pride, to attack the Pride.

'This state-orchestrated violence is an act of despair by the authorities, who are facing an increasingly stronger opposition, both in Parliament and in civil society.'

Reintke was present at the Istanbul Pride march when police attacked.

According to Al Jazeera, police attacked the Pride march as people approached Taksim Square, the site of anti-government riots in May 2013. Opposition members of the Turkish parliament formed a human chain to block the riot police and protect Pride marchers, Al Jazeera reports said.

According to the AFP news agency, police were ordered to stop the Pride march when marchers began shouting slogans accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of 'fascism.'

Other reports said the governor of Istanbul banned the march out of respect for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but Pride also coincided with Ramadan last year without incidents.

The Turkish government is led by a right-wing Islamist party, AKP (Justice and Development Party). The AKP and Turkish President Erdogan have been accused of trying to run the country as an authoritarian one-party state.

In parliamentary elections in June, AKP lost its majority status, as voters rejected Erdogan's attempts to increase his presidential powers.

In 2013, protests against a government-sponsored move to raze Gezi Park, an urban greenspace next to Taksim Square in central Istanbul, touched off months of anti-government riots. The park was occupied by a number of groups, including LGBT rights groups because Gezi Park was a popular meeting place for Istanbul's LGBT community.

In a show of solidarity, Gezi Park protestors joined the 2013 Pride march, swelling the crowd to tens of thousands. Police prevented them from entering Taksim Square, but there was no violence that year.

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