FLOWERS were laid at the Turkish Embassy in London on 4th September at a vigil to remember the women who have been murdered in Turkey and Kurdistan and as part of Kurdistan Solidarity Campaigns day of action.
Representatives of organisations including feminist group FiLIa, trade unionists on strike at the Tate Gallery, Labour Party members, women from the Kurdish Community Centre and activists from the Socialist Women’s Union (SKB) joined the event organised by the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign. A minute’s silence was held as those gathered displayed placards bearing the names of all the women killed in Turkey this year as campaigners warn the country is becoming “a slaughterhouse for women.”Members of the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign laid a wreath at the embassy in memory of the women killed due to the misogynistic “war against women” of the Turkish state.
It was part of a day of action to “Defend Women’s Lives in Turkey and Kurdistan.” Earlier, activists delivered a petition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street while a projection highlighting the attacks on women’s rights was projected at Trafalgar Square in London. Femicide is on the rise in Turkey with 474 women murdered last year. At least 50 women were killed in August according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform which collates statistics using media and police reports.Mass protests were triggered following the murder of 27-year-old Kurdish student Pinar Gultekin in July coupled with threats by the Turkish state to pull out of the Istanbul Convention, a 2011 treaty which obliges signatories to tackle gender-based crime, provide protection and services for women and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.
In another high-profile case, Turkish soldier Musa Orhan walked free a week after being charged with kidnapping and repeatedly raping Kurdish teenager Ipek Er over a 20 day period. She died in hospital after attempting suicide due to her ordeal. Those demanding Orhan’s arrest have been attacked by the state which has defended the army sergeant, meaning the perpetrators of rape and violence against women continue to act with impunity.Labour Party activist Vanessa Roberts said: “Almost 500 women were killed in Turkey and yet the government in Ankra is considering withdrawal from the Istanbul convention that offers legal and social guidance on how to curb violence against women. So it’s very important that here in the UK we stand in solidarity with our Turkish and Kurdish sisters.”
Paula Lamont from the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign said:
“The vigil today is in memory of the many women who have lost their lives to femicide in Turkey and Kurdistan.“Women in Turkey and Kurdistan are increasingly becoming victims of murder, rape, and domestic violence, and the withdrawal of the Istanbul convention is yet another example of the state sanctioned attacks on women’s rights there. “Rape, and the murder of women is used as a weapon of war against the Kurds particularly by the AKP government.“When perpetrators are caught and prosecuted for rape and violence against women, the courts have regularly handed downs either very, very light sentences or no sentences, at all, and there is very little justice open to women who are the victims of male violence in in Turkey. “That comes from the attitude of a government that thinks women are disposable, they don’t see them as equal citizens to men, and therefore their lives don’t have the same value as men’s lives. “
A KSC statement said:
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters in Turkey and Kurdistan in their fight against a misogynistic state that is waging war on women. “We hold the British government responsible and call on it to end arms sales and trade with Turkey until it stops killing women and agrees to remain in the Istanbul Convention. “We will continue to fight against femicde and will build networks with our sisters in Turkey and Kurdistan. Long live International Women’s solidarity. “
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign hand in petition ‘defending women’s lives in Turkey and Kurdistan
CAMPAIGNERS handed in a petition at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street residence this afternoon, demanding the government acts to pressure Turkey to stop its “war on women” and remain in the Istanbul Convention.Around 4,000 people signed the petition launched by the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign in response to a shocking rise in femicide in Turkey, with at least 50 women killed in August alone.
While activists recognise the limitations of the Istanbul Convention, which has never really been implemented in Turkey, government steps to withdraw from the treaty are a regressive measure and an attack on the gains of women in struggle. At least 474 women were murdered last year in Turkey according to statistics collated by the We Will Stop Femicides platform. The real figure is likely to be much higher with many cases unreported or unrecorded. It is estimated that 3,000 women have been murdered since the AKP came to power in 2002.
A Zoom meeting heard representatives from the Ankara Women’s Platform and the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) describe a “war on women” being waged by the Turkish state. Women’s organisations have been raided and shut down while police have battered and detained those joining mass protests demanding an end to femicide. In one shocking case, TJA activist Rojbin Cetin suffered horrific injuries after she was mauled by police dogs in a three and a half hour interrogation in her own home. Ankara Women’s Platform activist Derman Gulmez said “every day we wake up to a new femicide” and accused the Turkish government of covering up the murder of women.She explained that women are “arrested and tortured” when they take to the streets to defend their rights. Rahila Gupta, from Southall Black Sisters, hit out at the British government for its continued political and military support for the Erdogan regime. She said Turkey should be isolated as a pariah state in the same way South Africa was during apartheid.
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign spokeswoman Paula Lamont said: “We are delivering the petition to to Downing Street and calling on the UK Government to use their good offices with the Turkish AKP government to demand that they resist lobbyists, protect women and girls in Turkey and stop rolling back the Istanbul Convention and to forcefully urge the Turkish government to fully affirm and commit to the convention and implement it in full and in its entirety. “This will ensure that women’s lives are at least protected in law. Women’s lives are at high risk and situation in Turkey and Kurdistan is now critical. With such high numbers of women being raped and murdered and such little action being taken by the Turkish government international solidarity is now more important than ever.”
Projection in Trafalgar Square
As part of our day of action for #defendwomenslives and to raise awareness of the rising number of femicides, rapes and the state oppression against women in Turkey we visited #trafalgarsquare central London to project some shocking statistics on the National Gallery. To watch the full video please go to our Facebook page here.
Online meeting ‘Defend Women’s Lives in Turkey and Kurdistan
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign organsied an important solidarity event to highlight the ongoing feminicide in Turkey. Speakers from the Kurdish Women’s Movement, Kurdish solidarity speakers in the UK and women’s rights activists from Turkey’s Ankara Women’s Forum.
The speakers includes:
Ayşe Gökhan – TJA (Tevgera Jinen Azad)
Derman Gülmez – Ankara Women’s Platform
San Senik – ASLEF and Kurdistan Solidarity campaign
Rahila Gupta – Women’s Alliance for Kurdistan and Southall Black Sisters
To watch the meeting please go to our Facebook page here.