Turkey: Riot Police Break Up Women’s Day Protests
Riot police forcibly broke up a rally of hundreds of women gathering in Istanbul to mark International Women’s Day on 6 March. The women were mounting their demonstration two days before the official Women’s Day on 8 March, despite a ban by the governor of Istanbul that cited security concerns. Footage shows a crowd of women fleeing from police armed with shields and firing rubber bullets.
The female protesters had organised the protest in defiance of the ban, chanting slogans and filling the district of Kadikoy’s streets with purple banners – the hallmark of the movement centred on women’s social and economic issues.
“We have always said that we would never leave the streets for the March 8 demonstrations and we never will. Neither the police nor the government can stop us,” one demonstrator, Guris Ozen said before the clashes. “You see the power of women. We are here despite every obstacle and we will continue to fight for our cause.”
Another woman, Burcak Goren, said the city’s ban was a sign of “desperateness”. “They tried to ban us from demonstrating. We know they won’t allow us to demonstrate today but we also know that women will not leave the streets and return home,” she said.
At least one demonstrator was detained in the scuffle. Skirmishes also broke out during protests in capital Ankara, where dozens of women took to the streets.
Turkey has drawn criticism for its handling of gender issues. According to a 2011 UN report, non-sexual physical violence committed by intimate partners was 10 times more likely in Turkey, which aspires to join the European Union, than in some European countries. Meanwhile 281 women were murdered in 2014, up 31% from the previous year, according to statistics compiled by the Bianet monitoring group.