Mar 07 2018

Turkish women ready to march despite likely police intervention

Women’s rights groups in Turkey are announcing their protests and events to celebrate International Women’s Day on Mar. 8, despite police interventions against women participating in Women's Day demonstrations last weekend.

On Sunday, 15 protestors, mainly from the Ankara Women’s Platform, were detained after Turkey riot police broke up their march. Another demonstration by women architects who wished to release balloons on Wednesday in advance of Women's Day was prohibited by the police.

In Çorlu, northwest Turkey, 8 women from the Çorlu Women’s Platform were detained as they read a public statement.

In the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, a bicycle tour organized by the Dicle Amed Women’s Platform was banned by the police citing security concerns.  In the Aegan coastal city of Izmir, the governor did not allow Women’s Day demonstrations over the weekend, saying “Women’s Day cannot be celebrated on March the fifth.”

Police interventions against International Women’s Day and other demonstrations have become a regular occurrence in Turkey since a sit-in by environmentalist activists in Istanbul's Gezi Park set off a wave of nationwide protests in 2013.

Yet, neither police interventions nor attempts to ban demonstrations by local public authorities have managed to erode women’s will to take to the streets on Mar. 8. In 2017, Women’s Day celebrations were banned in Istanbul and Ankara, but the ban was then partially lifted due to public reaction.

Though no general ban has been announced for Women’s Day, there is already a blanket ban on demonstrations and public events in several of Turkey's predominantly-Kurdish cities. Under the state of emergency in place in Turkey since July 2016, the police are likely to try to prevent demonstrations in these cities.

Despite the widespread opposition to Women's Day actions by the police and authorities, women’s organizations in various cities have announced through social media that they will be holding events and demonstrations on Thursday.

One organisation, Women's Assemblies, announced that its members will march in fifteen cities across Turkey.