In August 8th, the body of prominent Turkish trans activist Hande Kader was found mutilated and burned in the Zekeriyaköy neighborhood of Istanbul. She is one of the hundreds of trans people who have been brutally attacked and murdered in the last years in Turkey. Public authorities have done close to nothing to address the issue and police authorities themselves are often accused of being responsible for the harassment, fines, physical punishment and other forms of abuse against trans people in the country. A very small number of cases have been addressed and most perpetrators have not been identified or properly prosecuted.
The situation has brought about massive outrage among LGBTI organizations, as well as friendly politicians and other fragments of society. In light of the recent coup attempt in Turkey – which was followed by mass arrests and serious violations of human rights – as well as the banning of Istanbul Pride in June, LGBTI people have expressed concerns, fear and doubts as to the future of human rights in their country as well as of their own safety.
Following the recent murder, on 21 August, hundreds of activists gathered in Istanbul demanding justice and respect for trans people. Two Turkish MPs, Filiz Kerestecioglu from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and Sezgin Tanrikulu from the Republican People’s Party attended the demonstration which was barricaded by Istanbul police forces.
Demonstrators shouted the names of all trans victims who have been murdered in the last years in many cities and towns across Turkey and their slogans read messages such as: “trans murders are a political matter. We want to die of natural causes” or “We won’t lose one more. Justice for Hande, justice for all”.
In their statement organizers of the demonstration from Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association Ebru Kiranci and trans activist Idil Su demanded legal protection from hate crimes and murder and stressed that transphobic murders are political.
Messages of solidarity have been sent from across the world towards Kader and LGBTI activists in Turkey. However, the situation remains desperate as trans people continue to be targeted, attacked and on the worse scenarios killed.
ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association joins in solidarity LGBTI organizations and activists in Turkey and expresses deep concern over the grave human rights violations of human rights defenders and other LGBTI citizens in the country. The lack of political will or empathy towards trans and other LGB citizens in Turkey must stop once and for all and appropriate measures should be taken to guarantee their safety, protection and respect.
- Yıldız Tar, “Hande Kader için İstanbul’da eylem: Ecelimizle ölmek istiyoruz”, kaosgl.org, August 21, 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22125/
- LGBT News Turkey https://lgbtinewsturkey.com/2016/08/21/demonstration-in-istanbul-for-hande-kader-we-want-to-die-of-natural-causes/
- Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade, http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/08/21/prominent-turkish-transgender-activist-murdered/
Photo Credits: Barış Paksoy and Yıldız Tar