MEPs condemn violence against Pride marchers by Istanbul police

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MEPs have condemned violence used against Pride marchers in Istanbul at the weekend, with tear gas and water canons used against demonstrators.

In a last minute decision, Istanbul’s pride march was banned by the governor who used the month of Ramadan as a justification.

During previous years, pride marches have taken place regardless of them taking place during the course of Ramadan. They have also been incredibly popular as tens of thousands of people have previously participated in each of the pride events, without any restrictions or obstructions in place until now.

However, despite the ban this year faced, crowds of people began to gather to celebrate pride and take part in the march. As more and more people began to turn up, the Turkish police violently attacked them using tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannons for turning up to take part in the event. As if that didn’t cause enough violence, they also deployed militarised police vehicles.

No one seemed to condone the violence the Turkish police displayed since they were put there to protect the marchers, not to attack them.

Kati Piri, European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey and Member of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, commented, saying: “Istanbul is a city of diversity and has a long tradition of peaceful pride parades.”

“I very much regret the unacceptable police violence yesterday against all the courageous marchers.” She continued.

Expressing his views against the Turkish police’s behavior, Terry Reintke MEP, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup and present at the Istanbul Pride, said: “It is absurd that after years of peaceful pride marches, the government uses police forces that should have protected the Pride, to attack the Pride.”

“This state-orchestrated violence is an act of despair by the authorities, who are facing an increasingly stronger opposition, both in Parliament and in civil society.” He added.

Isabella Adinolfi MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, backing the pride marchers said: “All the courageous marchers, and their allies, who ignored the ban, demonstrated what a 21st century Turkey should look like:  full respect for democratic values and fundamental rights.”

“This should play a large role in the accession negotiations, and I am certain that both the Commission and Parliament will take this up in their work with Turkey.” She concluded.