Government Restrictions and Police Violence Threaten Pride March in Turkey’s Taksim Square

Press Release
June 21, 2013

Government Restrictions and Police Violence Threaten Pride March in Turkey’s Taksim Square

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Following weeks of violently suppressed public protests, the Turkish government's declaration that public assemblies in Istanbul's central Taksim Square will not be tolerated will put Pride marches at risk over the next two Sundays, Amnesty International warned today.

The organization believes that not allowing peaceful gatherings in one of Istanbul's most iconic squares is a serious assault on the right to freedom of assembly and that the Turkish authorities must backpedal from this threatened restriction.

"Turkey's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community has struggled for years to gain acceptance of and respect for its Pride events, which have gone ahead successfully without police intervention in recent years," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia director. "To have this derailed now would be a serious step backwards for freedom of assembly in Turkey."

Turkish LGBTI activists had planned the Pride events for the next two Sundays – June 23 and 30.

The Pride marches follow several weeks of demonstrations during which police repeatedly used excessive force against peaceful protesters in the square and throughout the country.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.