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September 7, 2013 · 1:57 pm

Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – Press Statement on Gezi Park Resistance

We Demand a Truly Democratic Government Respectful of a Participatory System based on Freedom and Peace!

We will Continue to Resist the Authoritarian and Sexist Policies of the Turkish Government!

As one of the 79 members of Taksim Solidarity Platform on Gezi Park, Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR)-New Ways continues to insist on the following demands of the Platform:

* Gezi Park must remain a Park.

* All those who were detained across Turkey during the protests for exercising one of their most fundamental democratic rights—the right to assemble and demonstrate—must be released immediately and not be subject to prosecution.

* All police and officials, who used or ordered the use of violence on protesters that resulted in two deaths, grave injuries such as head trauma and sight loss of almost 50 people, and wounded over 4,500 must be investigated, prosecuted and those responsible should be removed from duty,

* The use of gas bombs and related materials must be banned.

* All public squares throughout Turkey should be opened to peaceful demonstrations.

These demands were jointly formulated by a very large and pluralistic community. While PM Erdoğan persistently fails to see this fact, his authoritarian and alienating statements with zero respect for democracy have resulted in police brutality, leading millions of citizens across the country to rush to public squares to defend their most fundamental human rights and dignity. Youth, environmentalists, women’s activists, health workers, teachers, lawyers, academics, unionized and non-union workers, Non Governmental Organizations, citizens, the faithful and non-believers, LGBTIQ individuals, artists, athletes, animal lovers, homemakers, soccer fans, professional organizations – women and men from all segments of the society have united at peaceful street demonstrations nationwide. All these groups and individuals came together to safeguard fundamental human rights and freedoms and have succeeded in bringing issues such as equality, democracy, pluralism and diversity to top of the agenda in Turkey, for which rights-based organizations have been advocating for decades.

Women are on the frontlines of the resistance
In terms of democracy, equality and freedoms, this resistance is especially meaningful and important to us as women. According to data compiled by the Istanbul Feminist Collective, at least three women are murdered daily in Turkey by a male member of their family or an ex-partner, although a large number of them have filed for protection orders against the perpetrators. While these murders are ongoing, PM Erdoğan continually makes public statements that he “does not believe in gender equality.” In addition, the government is becoming increasingly vocal in its discourses and policy initiatives that infringe on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Especially in the last five years as women’s rights organizations, our struggle has transformed from efforts to advance our rights to preserving our existing, hard-earned rights.

The “State Ministry Responsible for Women’s Affairs” was abolished and turned into “Ministry of Family and Social Policies” in 2012, as governmental policies have been geared towards confining women to the roles of “wife and mother” rather than “empowering them as equal individuals.” PM Erdoğan has been publicly urging women to have three (or even five) children, and has attempted to ban abortion, which has been legal up to ten weeks in Turkey since 1983. Although we, as the women’s movement, have succeeded in halting the attempt of the PM to ban abortion also thanks to international support we have mobilized, it has become very difficult women to exercise their right to abortion in practice. Presently, abortion services are not provided to women in many public hospitals throughout Turkey. Women who visit public healthcare clinics for pregnancy tests or abortions are being codified, and in some cases, their parents or spouses are being informed without prior consent. The state services to provide information and counseling on contraceptive methods have become very restricted.

Turkey ranks the lowest among all OECD countries in terms of women’s employment, and while the government has pledged to improve Turkey’s status in this respect, at the same time it continues to develop and implement contradictory policies to this promise, such as policies that encourage women to “work part-time” or work as are home-based workers, which are clearly discriminatory against women.

PM Erdoğan also continues its attacks on women’s rights based on “morality” norms, in relation to how “girls” or women have to behave in public. The sexist discourses and actions of the PM and his government that seek to impede women’s basic women’s rights and freedoms, are simply an organic extension of the authoritarian social engineering they displayed against the Gezi Park protesters. Thus, today, women from all walks of life have risen against these discourses and policies, and taken a place on the frontlines of this resistance to defend their rights.

We Demand a Truly Democratic Government Respectful of a Participatory System based on Freedom and Peace!

We will Continue to Resist the Authoritarian and Sexist Policies of the Turkish Government!

We urge the Prime Minister and the government to hear our voice, and urgently establish a respectful and constructive dialogue process to take the necessary steps and meet our democratic and legitimate demands!

Women for Women’s Human Rights-New Ways

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June 13, 2013 · 3:39 pm

Feminist Resistance in Taksim Gezi Park

A message from ESITIZ – Equality Watch Women’s Group

The peaceful protest which began on May 27, 2013 against the cutting of trees in İstanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park to replace them with Topçu Kışlası (Military Barracks demolished in 1940) and a shopping mall was met with police intervention as they threw gas bombs at the sleeping protestors in their tents, burned down the tents and the musical instruments of the activists. Thousands of Istanbulites of every political persuasion, age, gender and sexual orientation reacted immediately to this vicious police intervention.


The Gezi Park Resistance became a social movement because of:
· The vicious police attacks and intense use of gas and violence against the civilians who came to Taksim to support the Gezi Park Resistance on May 31;
· The censorship of mainstream media blacking out the events, and their disinformation efforts; and,
· The government’s use of provocative, humiliating, polarizing, threatening discourses against the people instead of retracting.
* Anti-government protests against the Prime Minister and the government are still ongoing in all the cities, neighborhoods and public spaces of Turkey with public demonstrations and boycotts at universities and high schools,
* The official toll of the vicious police attacks during these protests is 2 dead and hundreds wounded, 20 of them in a critical state,
* Thousands of protesters and nearly 30 twitter users have been taken into custody. They want to try them as “terrorists” despite the fact that they were using their constitutional right of expression, meeting and demonstration and participated in peaceful demonstrations,
* A national general strike began on 5th June and anti government demonstrations are continuing.


The current events taking place are a result of the antidemocratic and oppressive policies that have been practiced in Turkey for years.
The actions below culminated in millions of people in Turkey reacting to an unspecified martial law:
· The brutal attacks against the freedom of expression, organizing and peaceful protests, as was observed a month ago at the 1st Maydemonstrations in Taksim and gas attacks for all subsequent protests in Taksim,
· The cities and public spaces being pillaged by being turned into unearned income opportunities for politicians,
· All anti-environment and anti-culture policies such as plans to construct a canal between the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, planned Hydroelectric Power Plants (HES), the construction of the 3rd Bosphorus Bridge, the demolition of historic Emek Movie Theatre, the pillaging of Ataturk Forest Farm and Belgrade Forest, mining activities on Kaz Mountains and elsewhere,
· The assaults against private life and secular life style,
· The neo-liberal policies attacking labor and social rights,
· The gradually increasing lack of trust in the judiciary due to severe violations of the right to fair trial, and the transformation of the judiciary and all legal remedy mechanisms into nonfunctional shams,
· A de facto ban of abortion and C-sections, and being insensitive towards the cultural, legal and political demands of women and for creating anti-female policies,
· The monopolization of the media, the high levels of censorship and auto-censorship, the firing of journalists standing up for the right of the public to trustworthy information,
· The blacklisting of people in academia and pressures against independent academic studies,
· The lack of investigation into the claims of corruption in university entrance exams like the ÖSS, KPDS, and no impunity for the parties responsible,
· Ever increasing youth unemployment and ignoring the anxiety of youth about their future,
· The legislation of laws, aimed at completely changing fundamental policy fields very closely pertaining to the future of the country such as the education system, without ever being debated or discussed, but unanimously passed surreptitiously in parliament sessions in the middle of the night with undue haste and confusion. The law passed to intervene in people’s life styles is one such example.THE DISSENT OF WOMEN
In a country where at least five women are killed every day and the killing of women has reached the level of femicide, the government has wearied women with their patriarchal and morality based discourses.

Women have become one of the main forces behind the foundation of this resistance due to their grievances on these issues:
* The disbanding of the Women’s Ministry,
* The lack of effective punishment for the perpetrators of harassment and rape crimes and   for the prevention of child sexual exploitation,
* Discourses on the inequality of men and women, discourses and policies claiming that women can only exist within the home,
* Demands for every woman to bear five children, a de facto ban on abortion and C-sections, the requirement of a prescription for morning-after pills thereby paving the way for blacklisting of sexual affairs,
* The lack of women appointed to decision-making mechanisms,
* The hostile attitude towards the women’s movement and feminists


· We call all governments to stop using chemical gas to silence their people, but instead to recognize chemical gas as a weapon; to immediately cease production of chemical gas all around the world, to confiscate the stocks, to ban the use of any kind of chemical gas whether in time of peace or war.
· All the media companies in Turkey and across the world to do their job of supplying authentic information from within the protest, about the true dimensions of the struggle for democracy, peace and freedom which began in Taksim, directly and without censorship to all peoples.
· A warning to be given to governments supporting or staying silent about the anti-democratic practices of Turkey’s rulers for their own profit.
· A joint and more effective struggle to be put up against majority governments for the imposition of fundamentalism on the people as the only alternative.
· Alternatives to be made available and feasible against every part of social/community life being subjected to market norms and be turned into vehicles for unearned income.


· The government should step down; the Prime Minister should resign from politics. A transition government should be established in order to free Turkey from all the constitutional and legal legislations of the 12 September 1980 military coup, and to fulfill the political demands of all groups.
· Police violence against meetings and demonstration marches all across Turkey should immediately cease. Detentions and arrests should halt and people in custody be released without any charges pressed against them or criminal records filed, effective immediately.
· Starting with the Minister of Internal Affairs, all individuals responsible for the disproportionate violence perpetrated against the peaceful demonstrations should immediately be released from duty, criminal cases should be filed against them and they should be prosecuted for “torture and crimes against humanity” in civil law suits.
· Starting with the Taksim Gezi Park Project, all government projects against nature, history, art, science and labor, should be canceled.
· Policies should start to be implemented that protect the rights of all citizens without discriminating against anyone on any ground, and enable the citizens’ active participation in every field of public life.


ESITIZ – Equality Watch Women’s Group


June 9, 2013 · 4:09 pm