In a shocking statement, released recently, Turkey’s Ministry of Interior closed down 370 associations in 39 provinces of the country, declaring their activities “ceased” but not disclosing the names of the associations. According to the Ministry the reason for such closures is security under State of Emergency rule.

LGBTI organizations in Turkey, knowing the Government’s stance on the issue fear that they might also be in the list. A while ago Agenda Children Association working on children’s rights was sealed. In a social media post LGBTI activists argued that “if they can seal the doors of Agenda Children, so they can do for LGBTI associations”.

Activists’ fears came true when later on LGBTI activist and lawyer Levent Pişkin was detained by the police. A special operation team busted his home in Kurtuluş district of Istanbul. Pişkin is a member of one of the 370 organizations shut down last week and is known as a human rights defender. In a statement by Turkish LGBT news portal it is argued that Mr. Pişkin was tarketed by Sabah daily newspaper which deliberated on his contacts with other individuals recently detained by Turkish police and that allegedly he “transmitted the demand of German magazine. The demand is for the purpose of propaganda that includes the hand-written note from Demirtas, stating his message to Europe and Germany. 

ERA expressed its deep concern for the safety of LGBTI and other human rights defenders in Turkey. The recent developments show that the Turkish government is clearly violating all principles of democracy and human rights under pretenses of national security undermining the right to freedom of assembly, expression and association of its citizens. This escalation of measures, and the targeting of all forms of opposition or democratic processes in the country reveal the country’s grave transition into an authoritarian regime.

ERA urges European institutions and governments to take proactive steps and engage with Turkey in political dialogue which guarantees the country’s democratic values and traditions.