Title: Blood on the crescent Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 21st July 2016 - 4:33pm1469075580 Article: 18554 Rights
Turkey is currently experiencing the aftermath of a coup attempt and reprisals by Islamist President Erdogan. How does Turkey treat its LGBTI inhabitants and how are they faring amidst the crackdown? Until 1918, Turkey was the centre of the declining Ottoman Empire, centred on Ankara. Throughout the nineteenth century, it had steadily lost its remaining toeholds in Europe within the Balkans and Greece, and the end of the First World War brought the final disintegration of its remaining control over modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Immediately afterward, Kemal Ataturk led the Turkish War of Independence (1918-23) and instituted the modern, theoretically secular Republic of Turkey. Seventy five percent of the population are ethnic Turks, with smaller proportions of Circassians, Jews, Kurds, Arabs, Greeks, Bosnians, Georgians and others. Although unrecognised, Kurds are the largest such ethnic minority. Most of the population are Sunni Muslim in faith, with a significant Alawite Muslim majority as well. For much of the twentieth century, Turkey was a one-party state. It remained neutral for much of World War II, but Soviet pressure on Greece and Turkey to allow its Black Sea naval fleet and bases in the area led to the declaration of the "Truman Doctrine" and US guarantees of Turkish and Greek security. In 1945, Turkey was one of the founder members of the United Nations and in 1961, it joined the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. However, Greek/Turkish relationships have not been cordial, due to the civil war and effective partition of Cyprus into Greek and Turkish spheres of influence. After a coup in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and left nine years later after establishing a satellite state. One-party rule ended in 1945, which did not herald a particularly stable aftermath in terms of governmental stability. The current situation can best be described as multiparty democracy, but there have been sporadic military coups (1960, 1971, 1980). In 1984, the PKK guerilla movement began a period of protracted against the Turkish state, which is still unresolved and has cost an estimated 4000 lives. Turkish repression of Kurdish identity, communities and independent political parties has accompanied the process of 'pacification.' Insofar as general human rights go, Turkey's condition can best be described as lacklustre. While the post-Ataturk government of Adnan Menderes and his Democratic Party were initially welcomed due to their relaxations on allowing religious displays and worship (1950-1960), economic turmoil led to a coup at the end of this period and Menderes' execution. While the coup was only temporary, and democracy returned in 1961, there was consequently a decade of unstable coalition governments consisting of the left's Republican People's Party and the right's Justice Party, with a second coup in 1971 which deposed a Justice Party-led coalition. In 1974, the Republican People's Party/National Salvation Party coalition presided over the aforementioned invasion of Northern Cyprus. After a period of aggravated instability and political violence between nationalist and communist armed militia, there was a third coup in 1980. For much of the eighties, there was a period of one-party rule under the social conservative Motherland Party, leading to some economic stabilisation and relative prosperity. There has been increasing concern about the encroachment of Islamist values on the ostensibly secular Turkish state, leading to a military memorandum in 1997. Current Prime Minister Rencip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party were elected in 2002 and won office again in 2007. Erdogan has taken a tough stance against the Turkish military, crushing what he claimed was a coup in 2010, but opposition to his autocratic rule grew. In 2013, there were widespread demonstrations against the Erdogan regime. Nevertheless, the Justice and Development Party won a third term of office in 2015 after national elections. As President, Erdogan has been building an 'imperial presidency' that buttresses his power against other arms of his nation's government. He founded the Justice and Development Party himself in 2001 and controls his political vehicle. During his time in office, he has been accused of wasteage of public funds for expenditure on his presidential palace. In 2015, there was scandal over alleged financial links to ISIS and logistical links to other combatants in the Syrian Civil War. Failed Kurdish PKK peace talks have led to a sharp rise in domestic terrorist incidents within Turkey. Electoral fraud and government corruption charges have also recently dogged his regime. While Turkey aspires to join the European Union, one sticking point is its authoritarianism, and lack of respect for human rights and civil liberties. While Turkey officially abolished capital punishment in 1984, nevertheless there have been recurrent reports of non-judicial executions by police, military authorities and Islamist vigilante groups. Amnesty International, the United Nations and Turkey's Human Rights Association continue to monitor these. Despite a two-year parliamentary commission of inquiry (1993-1995), extrajudicial and 'unsolved' killings have proliferated, particularly in Turkey's southeastern provinces, due to the Kurdish PKK insurgency. The European Union and Amnesty International have also documented instances of torture by police, military authorities and quasi-governmental vigilante groups. Prison conditions are ghastly and there have been numerous 'deaths in custody.' As for freedom of expression, membership of communist and Islamist organisations is proscribed, and it is an offence to mock the legislature, Turkish identity or the Republic. I last wrote about Turkey in 2008, focusing predominantly on LGBT issues. In 1988, Lambda Istanbul was established, although with little initial effect. As recently as 1996, the Turkish Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian mother's 'immorality' precluded her from gaining custody, but in the course of the next decade, the nation liberalised slightly. Due to its European Union membership aspirations, it has had to provide leeway for the independent organisation of LGBT organisations, free speech and diversity and organisation of Pride marches from 2003 onward. However, there have been mixed successes. Turkey abstained from allowing the United Nations to permit lesbian and gay organisational accreditation. In 2007, Human Rights Watch published a report on Turkish LGBT concerns, entitledWe Need a Law for Liberation: Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights in a Changing Turkey. The report disclosed numerous incidents of beatings, robberies, police harrassment, threats of murder and sexual violence against lesbians and bisexual women within their families. In 2009, Turkish transgender activist Ebru Soykan was murdered outside her home. In that same year, its national Telecommunication Directorate closed down two popular LGBT websites on the basis that they 'promoted prostitution and pornography.' In 2010, Ankara Police subjected Pink List Association transgender rights activists to brutal assaults on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Amnesty International condemned maltreatment of Turkish LGBT activists in 2011. In 2014, though, tens of thousands of participants came out for Istanbul Pride. However, in 2016, Turkish Police broke up a Pride march with tear gas and plastic bullets. Furthermore, according to Human Rights Watch, Erdogan's regime has a number of other failings. In 2014, it released a further report on Turkey's overall human rights situation, entitled Turkey's Human Rights Rollback: Recommendations for Reform. It makes sobering reading. As well as denial of LGBT human rights, the Erdogan regime has also carried out other infringements of human rights, including suppression of freedom of expression and media after anti-regime Istanbul rallies in May 2014, failure to protect Kurdish language and culture, imprisonment of legal Kurdish Opposition party members without due process, a contaminated and politicised judicial process, impunity for human rights abuses by military authorities and security organisations, and failure to implement legislation that punishes family violence and honor killings. And thus, to the recent coup. Conflict has been brewing between Recep Erdogan, his Justice and Development Party and the Turkish military since the former appointed a presidential candidate not supported by the former. The military has been purged of secular elements like Ergenekon, although elements were said to back dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been in asylum in the United States. It is feared that Erdogan is using the failed coup as concealment for further repression of dissent, opposition parties and incompatible political movements. Based on documentation of his previous activities, that would seem sadly logical. Recommended: Wikipedia: Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan Wikipedia: Justice and Development Party: Justice_and_Development_Party_ (Turkey) We Need a Law of Liberation: Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights in a Changing Turkey: report/2008/05/21/we-need-law- liberation/gender-sexuality- and-human-rights-changing- turkey Turkey's Human Rights Rollback: Recommendations for Reform: report/2014/09/29/turkeys- human-rights-rollback/ recommendations-reform Turkey Coup: Who Was Behind Turkey coup attempt? BBC News: 17.08.2016: com/news/world-europe-36815476 Craig Young - 21st July 2016    
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