Policies of femicide are underway in Turkey
Today women’s rights, human rights, children’s rights, ecological rights face obliteration at the hands of the Turkish state which has now turned the State of Emergency permanent based on laws bent on perpetuating harshly centralized state systems in service of capitalist modernity’s lust for profit and power. Perhaps we do not witness the likes of mass massacre sights inflicted by military bombardments in wars like in the days of WW1 and WW2 thanks to the current dynamics which resist. However it is well known that drone attacks are causing more civilian deaths than military unlike the two other world wars. We are under bombardment all around. What was done to Mirabal sisters in Dominica has now taken the shape of assassinating women by drone attacks (like in the cases of Afrin, Maxmur, Kobane and Silopi with 3 women murdered in each one of them). Children and the elderly suffer from insomnia due to the sound of fighter jets and tens of people die every day.
In this century especially stateless groups like women, peoples and faiths face severe threats and risks as structures like AKP-MHP that become more and more dictatorial everyday are confronting women with mass massacres in the name of fighting terror. They are bombing Kurdish settlements and refugee camps and carrying out mass arrests of those women who oppose these policies terrorizing the society. According to the data reflected in IHD, THIV and bar association reports in 2019 alone 4567 people were detained and at least 431 women died as a result of male violence. 359 women were injured. At least 499 women were raped or sexually abused, 726 women suffered violence. Official figures put the number of women suffering from violence at ten thousands while the number of women who died as a result of violence is higher than 431. (IHD 2019 ANNUAL REPORT)
The one-man Turkish state system rejecting and denying pluralism criminalizes and terrorizes the freedom of organization and expression. Interstate institutions and organizations (the UN, EU, EC, ECHR, CPT, etc) and bodies responsible for the implementation of universal declarations are not fulfilling their tasks and losing prestige in the eyes of the peoples of the world.
Based on this the Turkish state became bolder in its attacks against women. Such boldness on the part of the state has encouraged the men in the society leading to a steep increase of 1600% in violence against women and femicide. Under circumstances where even the bar associations are under attack, it is not difficult to predict the sort of massacre we have been left up against.
Yes! Because we are women, Kurdish and we are without a state and we live in Kurdistan geography as TJA which also includes women from Turkey we face 4 times as many attacks every day. We face atrocities that are rarely seen in the world. Curfews that last weeks and sometimes months, bans on actions and activities. It is thanks to such bans that 284 dead bodies were kidnapped from the Bitlis cemetery. As it turns out, they were brought to İstanbul and buried under sidewalks. The mindset which has been torturing even bones for 2 years has destroyed tens of graves, has been attacking funerals and condolence ceremonies. A mother who gave DNA test for identification purposes years ago was delivered the bones of her son by cargo in a parcel on pretext of pandemia, while political prisoners are left to die at the hands of pandemia in prisons. At least one ill or elderly prisoner dies every month in prison. Mountains, forest lands are bombed daily. Entrapment of the society in the grip of aggravated total isolation which is a crime against humanity, attacks on Saturday mothers and peace mothers, attacks on Kurdish unity and identity, lynch attacks, policies of special warfare and promoting and pushing drug use and prostitution targeting Kurdish youth, replacement of elected mayors by state appointed trustees, marrying children with men who raped them and pardoning the rapist, sexual abuse and rape of children, state’s misogynist laws, mass killings of working women of dimensions beyond the March 8th massacre in New York, massacre of seasonal workers and exploitation of labour, sexual violence against women, sexist, racist policies, policies that exploit religion… Because we struggle against all of these, through repression, detention and arrests our right to life as women is being essentially ignored.
The Turkish state is at great ease replacing the elected mayors of Kurdish cities and counties with appointed trustees, confiscating the indigenous peoples’ right go elect and be elected. The state considers the Kurds and various local peoples who want to organize themselves, all state-less women, peoples and faiths who demand rights as potential criminals. The silence of other states or the strengthening of relations between states, the signing of joint protocols every day, political, economic, military, arms sale cooperation all serve to further embolden the
Turkish state. The UN adopted principle concerning indigenous peoples defending themselves and being defended, CEDAW protocol on eliminating violence against women, declaration of the rights of the child are being totally disregarded. A review of all these practices will readily reveal that what is being done to us is of the nature of femicide.
As TJA we are today the most active dynamic struggling against violence against women. Inspired by a democratic, ecologic, women emancipatory paradigm we are waging a joint struggle together with other women of Turkey and all the various differences. However, after the closure of 115 women’s associations and solidarity centers struggling for women’s rights by presidential decrees and trustees in Kurdish cities and counties, Rosa Women’s Association was the only association that was sanctioned to remain open by the governor and the interior ministry. In the middle of the night on 22 May 2020, door-breaking raids were conducted on the homes and offices of women who were all TJA activists and members and executives of Rosa Women’s Association. They were arrested in spite of the risk of pandemia.
The interrogators and prosecutors asked them the following questions as the basis for accusations: What is your goal in organizing the 8th of March rally? Why did you make press statements against trustees appointed to replace the mayors ? What was your goal? Why did you support peace mothers? What was your goal? Why did you carry out an action with the banner “Where is Gulistan Doku” (University student missing since 5 January 2020, last seen with her boyfriend who is a police officer’s son.)? The prosecutors also considered it a crime to carry posters saying “murdering women is political”, “co-chairmanship is our purple line”, “isolation is a crime against humanity”, “jin-jiyan-azadi”. Within the last 20 days 17 TJA activists have been arrested and sent to jail. This does not include those taken into police custody.
Most recently, 42 people including the sick and the elderly have been taken into police custody, after midnight raids breaking their doors. Among them is Rojbin Cetin, TJA activist, member of HDP’s local governments commission, former co-mayor of the Edremit county of Van. Below is a report of what she publicized through her lawyer and her state of health certificate:
Rojbin told her lawyer about the torture when she was taken to the Diyarbakır Security Directorate. Her lawyer has duly documented the torture. Below is a translation of what she said:
“They broke my door. At first I did not realize what was happening. They stormed in with the dogs and made the dogs attack me. One of the dogs clung to the upper part of my leg and the other grabbed my other leg. I tried to free my legs. The dogs squeezed me to the wall. I shouted “pull your dogs back, why did you enter lişke this” but they just watched on. I think they were from the gendarmerie special operations and police special operations. They all wore snaw masks. They yelled ‘on the ground, on the ground’ I said I would not lie down. The dogs nearly bit my flesh off. I kicked them off. Then they forced me to lie down grabbing my hair and pushing me down. They kept beating me. They hit me with the buts of the guns and kicked me. They kept shouting and insulting me.”
“During the raid they kept saying ‘speak, speak”. I said ‘what shall I speak about. Calm down why are you acting like this.’ They were saying ‘we know all that you have done, you are sure to get life sentence’. I was trying to protect my head because they kept hitting. As I tried to lift my head they began to kick my eyes. They tried to handcuff me on the back. I resisted. They put their feet on my arms and legs. They split my lip. When I said I wanted my lawyer, they said ‘we are your lawyers, you will talk to us.’ I said ‘I am a party executive, how can you adopt such an attitude! I am a person who has served as a mayor, how can you treat me like this!’
“I was alone at home. I raised my voice so the neighbours would hear. They pointed their guns at my head and said ‘why don’t you talk to us we have not begun to interrogate you, you have seen nothing yet.’ Then they blindfolded me. They kept beating and pouring water over my head. There were two female police. One of them kept beating me because I did not speak. I have bruises all over. They kept saying things like ‘We know how long you stayed in the mountains.’ When I kept silent they increased the insults. They said many things like ‘you have cancer, how can you receive this treatment, how can you do all these things.’ ‘We have so many things on you.’ I said ‘Let someone accompany you when you make the house search’ because they had brought no one along. One of them said ‘can we find anything in the house’ the other replied ‘what does it matter we will plant something ourselves’. I did not sign anything. But I do not know what they put in my house. They rummaged the house all by themselves. I could only hear what they did, my eyes were blindfolded. “
“The dog bite was very deep. It nearly bit a chunk of my flesh off. I forced the dogs to go away by self-defense. After that they continued, beating me with the buts of their guns, kicking and spitting on me. I said I cannot feel my hands. I asked for my clothes. They wanted me to get dressed with my eyes blindfolded. I resisted and said I will not get dressed like this. They threatened me saying ‘we will take you downstairs naked’. Then I dressed in the accompaniment of two female police. It was really traumatic, all that happened. The torture in my house was of a monstrous level. They put a gun to my head and they threatened saying ‘if you make a sound we will do worse”. They said ‘if your flat had been on the fifth floor we would not have to go to all this trouble. You would have jumped off the window. Talk to us, you used to be a mayor.’ My leg is very bad now. They said ‘Don’t lift your head up when going out, don’t shout. Or else we will finish you off.’
“They tore off the clothes and the baggy trousers I was wearing. They stripped me half naked and I think they took pictures of me like this because I heard the click of the camera. They made psychological pressure they made many threats like ‘we will finish you off’. One of them sneeringly said ‘They are very tough, their women are very resistant. She says I will not talk whatever you do’. They also tried to provoke me.
“I was taken to a health care center. I wanted them to uncuff me because there was no blood circulation in my hands, they hand turned black. I told the doctor. Then they took me to the Selahattin Eyyubi State Hospital. The doctor said ‘I cannot carry out a physical examination under these conditions.’ I asked the police to go out. I told the doctor everything. The dog bites on my legs were dressed and the bleeding stopped.”
Rojbin was brought to the testimony at the prosecutor’s office on wheelchair. The prosecutor prescribed a detention period of 12 days for her. Her lawyer who documented the torture with photos was called in for interrogation upon the instructions of the prosecutor’s office.
In spite of all these attacks TJA continues to struggle saying jin jiyan azadî, we are not scared, we will not be silent, we will not obey. Institutions responsible for seeing to it that universal declarations are implemented, the UN and similar institutions and organizations also bear the responsibility of declaring that they are not scared of, will not be silenced by and will not obey monist state systems. Otherwise, those institutions which take the authority to realize and implement democracy which inherently belongs to the localities and hand it over to states should not forget that they become accomplices when states fail to implement it.
Tevgera Jinên Azad(TJA)