Istanbul Pride-goers thought they were ‘all going to die’ during horrifying mob lynching attack

Istanbul pride

A group of queer friends feared for their lives after a homophobic mob attempted to lynch them as they left Istanbul Pride parade in Turkey.

The terrifying scene happened after the 19th Istanbul Pride March in Taksim on Saturday (26 June), a peaceful protest marred by police violence, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Speaking anonymously to Bianet, the group of Pride-goers recalled how the violence quickly escalated into a “life-and-death situation” when they were stopped by a mob of 30 men as they tried to leave the event.

“As one of our friends had a crop top, they told this friend, ‘Cover yourself, man,'” they said. “Then, without us understanding what was going on, they ran to us and attacked us.

“Hurling swear words and hitting only our heads, they beat us for minutes. While we were running to other streets, trying to escape, people came out of their houses there, hitting and attacking us.”

The small group of seven to eight friends were quickly outnumbered by the mob and begged bystanders for help, but none would intervene.

“One of my friends was caught among the crowd. As we could not take that friend from there, we – as the ones who managed to escape – asked the shopkeepers and the people around for help, saying, ‘Our friend is dying, please help.’ But no one did anything about it,” they said.

“We could do nothing other than running away and hoping that our friends would escape, too. I would like to underline this because I want everyone to understand the desperation and the gravity of the hate crime committed there.

“Another friend who was caught among the group said that s/he could do nothing except for covering her/his head and waiting for it to stop.”

This went on for several minutes until the police stepped in with pepper gas and plastic bullets, allowing them to escape. “If they had been a little more late, some of us would not have survived,” they said.

After fleeing the terrifying mob attack the friends “just sat on the wayside and started crying,” getting no sympathy from the police who’d saved them.

“A police officer told us, ‘You shouldn’t have gone there, they are playing the ‘Pit’ game there’ [a TV series on mafia], and ‘You shouldn’t exaggerate it that much; you are human beings, you can have a fight.’

“While we – as seven or eight friends – were sitting on the wayside and having a chat, we were attempted to be lynched and killed by a group of people because one of our friends was wearing a short shirt.”

Now aided by the Turkish Human Rights Association, the group plans to appeal to the prosecutor’s office to ensure their ordeal doesn’t go unpunished. They’ve obtained a medical report documenting the battering and intend to file a criminal complaint via their attorneys.

“In this country, the government and the law enforcement affiliated with it are committing a hate crime everyday,” they said.

“The one responsible for the attempted lynch that we faced is also the government, which gradually steps up hate policies and hate speech against the LGBTIA+s. Long live life just to spite hate.”

Local media reported that at least 20 Istanbul Pride revellers were arrested in the march, which has been banned by authorities for seven consecutive years.

The shocking violence follows years of increasing government hostility against the queer community in Turkey, ranked among the worst countries in Europe for LGBT+ rights.