Activists beaten, detained at court hearing for protesters of women’s rights treaty exit

Female activists were beaten and detained by Turkish police in the capital city of Ankara after attempting to make a statement outside a local court during trial proceedings against protestors arrested for defending a European treaty aimed at protecting women’s rights.  

 Activists with the Ankara Women’s Platform arrived outside the 28th Penal Court of First Instance where the first hearing against the protestors was taking place, Bianet news site reported. Thirty three protestors, also members of the Ankara Women’s Platform, were arrested in August 2020 for staging demonstrations to support Turkey remaining within the Istanbul Convention.

The Istanbul Convention is a treaty of the Council of Europe that aims to combat gender-based violence. Social conservatives in Turkey, including members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), argued that the convention undermined the traditional family and encouraged homosexuality. Turkey exited the treaty on March 19, sparking new protests.

According to Bianet, police approached the activists to disrupt the statement from being made, basing their reasoning on COVID-19 concerns. The activists refused and were met with pepper spray from the police. 

Journalists reporting on the hearing were also assaulted by police officers. Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporter Hakan Yalçın was battered by officers and recounted them calling journalists liars for their work on police violence. 

"You do not go away when the police say so; then, you say there is police violence. You are all liars, you are all immoral,” one officer reportedly said. 

Also in attendance were members of parliament (MP) from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). One lawmaker, Semra Güzel an HDP MP from Diyarbakir, said that police told her to “Stop talking” when she protested their actions against demonstrators. Guzel posted footage on her Twitter account showing part of the police response to female protestors outside the court.


Attorneys who attended the hearing later filed charges against several of the police officers involved in using violence on protestors last year. The court rejected the request however and adjourned the trial until November 26. 

Upon hearing of this decision, several women and attorneys waiting outside the courtroom applauded in protest against the police violence. They chanted slogans like "Not male justice, but real justice" and "We don't hush, we don't fear, we don't obey."