Turkish police release man who threatened top politician’s wife

(Updates with new information on paragraphs 1-2, 21)

The Turkish police released from custody a man identified as V. Y., who had made a sexually-offensive threat against Başak Demirtaş, wife of imprisoned Kurdish politician and former leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş.

V. Y. had been detained after a Turkish prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant on Sunday for the threats posted under the pseudonym "Vedat Muti," news site Diken reported. Shortly after, V. Y.'s uncle V. M. was detained as well.

The Sakarya Chief Prosecutor's Office said in a statement on Sunday that a detention order has been issued against an individual, and that an investigation had been opened. The original suspect, identified with his initials V. Y., was later detained, alongside his uncle V. M. 

Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on Twitter that he condemned the “nasty” posts and “cursed the immoral and destructive action in the most severe way”.

“The honour, chastity and dignity of a person are above everything. The law will do what is necessary against these rude and provocative words,” he added.

However, in a statement released on Sunday, the HDP’s Women’s Council blamed the attack on a growing climate of sexism, racism, and political repression fostered by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right allies in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). 

“This attack derives from the misogynistic policies of the AKP government,” the statement said. 

Demirtaş’s husband Selahattin Demirtaş has been jailed since November 2016 over a string of terror-related charges which critics say are spurious and an attempt to stifle dissent and opposition to Erdogan, as well part of a wider clampdown on the pro-Kurdish political movement.

Many Turkish Twitter users began posting in solidarity with Başak Demirtaş following the threats under the hashtag “#BaşakDemirtaşSeninleyiz” (#BaşakDemirtaşWeAreWithYou”)

Fidan Ataselim, head of the women's rights platform We Will Stop Femicide, tweeted: 

"We are against hatred and sexism, #BaşakDemirtaşSeninleyiz. And those who prepare the ground for this are as bad as those who share it."

Some Twitter users suggested that “Vedat Muti” was a pro-AKP troll. The background on his Twitter account - which has now been suspended - featured a photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

“In the name of women's solidarity, I invite especially AKP women to support Başak Demirtaş and prosecutors and judges to perform their duties,” Canan Kaftancıoğlu, Istanbul chair of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said in a tweet.

“We can call you trolls, we can say we don't take it seriously. But I wish you didn't become that vulgar."

Erdoğan has been accused by women’s rights organisations of sexism by urging women to have at least three children, declaring that they are “incomplete” until they become mothers, and has said that men and women are not equal. 

Violence against women has seen a dramatic increase under the AKP, with over 15,557 women murdered in the country since the Islamist party came to power in 2002, Birgün newspaper reported in March.

A total of 66 women were murdered in the country in 2002 with the figure increasing to at least 474 in 2019, it said citing a report prepared by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Sezgin Tanrıkulu on the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day.

At least 49 women were killed in the first two months of 2020, according to the report. Nearly 40 percent of Turkish women face physical or sexual violence from a partner, according to the United Nations.

Earlier in June, many women in Turkey launched a Twitter campaign to share their accounts of discrimination, harassment and conservative gender roles by turning male-dominant stereotypes upside down under the hashtag #letmenknowtheirplace.

Some of the women tweeted: “A man should not laugh in public. He must be modest,”; “A man must keep himself for his future wife,”; and “I see men wearing tight mini shorts and perfume, and laughing in the streets. Then, they complain of sexual harassment.”

V. Y. was released on Monday after providing his statement, news site Duvar reported. V. M. remains in police custody.

http://www.diken.com.tr/basak-demirtasi-tehdit-eden-kisiye-gozalti-karari/

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