Families of murdered women defend anti-femicide group in Turkey court
April 5, 2023 06:22 PM
The families of women murdered by men demonstrated Wednesday in defence of a prominent Turkish anti-femicide campaign group accused of activity against law and morals.
Prosecutors had filed a lawsuit in April against We Will Stop Femicide Platform, one of the country's leading feminist organisations. If convicted, it could be shut down.
The group has been campaigning against the murder and abuse of women since its foundation in 2010.
Protesters gathered alongside the families of murdered women outside Istanbul's main court ahead of the third hearing in the case, unfurling a large banner: "The platform will not stop. Women's murders will stop".
"We will defend the rights of everyone whose lives were stolen in this country. And those days are close," group representative Gulsum Kav told reporters.
The We will Stop Femicide Platform was founded a year after a high-profile murder case of 18-year-old Munevver Karabulut, whose body had been dumped into a waste container in Istanbul.
The grisly murder sparked widespread uproar and repulsion, especially after the suspect managed to evade justice for more than six months.
In early days the platform brought attention only to femicide trials, but now they track all types of violence against women as well as LGBTQ individuals and children.
The group says 69 women have been killed in Turkey since January this year, after 397 last year and 427 in 2021.
Figen Yetiskin, a mother whose daughter was murdered, said the platform supported her in more than a dozen court hearings and provided legal assistance, including hiring a lawyer.
"They always stood by me in court. Contrary to its shutdown, I believe that the platform should be bolstered and supported more," she told the court.
"They taught me I am a woman and I have rights, they supported me in 16 hearings for the arrest of my daughter's murderer," she said.
"They walked together with me and I will walk together with them forever".
- 'Make our voice heard' -
Saadet Irem Karlidag told the court the platform gave her family huge support in shedding light on the murder of her aunt.
"My aunt was killed in daylight before our eyes. We could make our voice heard thanks to We Will Stop Femicide Platform," she said.
"They didn't leave us alone. And today I stand by them. I believe this case is unlawful."
The judge adjourned the hearing on Wednesday and it will resume on September 13.
The association was a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision in 2021 to pull Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, which requires countries to set up laws aimed at preventing and prosecuting violence against women.
Social conservatives in Turkey say the convention promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values.
"This case is aimed at civil society, and will deeply affect human rights defenders as well as LGBTQ advocates," Polat Yamaner, a lawyer for Turkey's Human Rights Foundation, told the court.
"If this unjust case is dropped, I will feel I am a lawyer again on this symbolic day," said another lawyer, Nazan Moroglu, referring to the April 5 marking of Lawyers' Day in Turkey, in comments that received applause from the audience.