“While we remember and mourn the loss of Turkish trans women whose lives were brutally taken from us this year, we must recognize too, the courage of the activists who tirelessly work to advance the human rights of trans people in the Middle East.”
Hossein Alizdeh, IGLHRC Coordinator Middle East and North Africa Program
During the past twelve months, the Turkish trans community has continued to be the target of fatal hate crimes. On April 19, a 36-year-old trans woman identified as R.B. was shot in Izmir, Turkey. She was rushed to the hospital, but she passed away before reaching the hospital. Two other trans women were injured during the shootout. On July 31, Didem, a trans woman, was brutally murdered in Istanbul, Turkey’s most populated city. The assailants cut the throat of this 21-year-old trans woman. On October 6, a woman was shot to death in Gaziantep, one of the southern cities of Turkey.
The Turkish trans community is also subject to transphobia perpetuated by officials, including the police. On June 19, 2010 the Turkish police stopped three transgender human rights defenders who were driving their cars, asking them to be taken to the police station. The activists requested a reason for their detention and insisted that without a reason they will not go to the police station. The police used violence to detain the trans women and later charged them with “resisting the police” and “insulting the police.” On October 26, 2011, Ankara’s Criminal Court found the activists guilty and sentenced the three-transgender human rights defenders to jail terms ranging from five to eighteen months.
On November 2, 2011 IGLHRC partnered with Pembe Hayat (Pink Life), the leading national trans group in Turkey, and several other human rights organizations to co-author a letter to the Turkish Ministry of Justice urging the government to drop charges against the three trans human rights defenders arrested on June 19.
Despite all restrictions and violence against the Turkish trans community, the trans organizations in Turkey continue their admirable work to promote and defend the rights of their community. To that end, Pink Life is organizing a Conference on Combating Transphobic Hatred on November 18 to 19 2011, in Ankara, Turkey.