Police detain 44 people at Istanbul’s banned LGBT Pride march
Police detained some 44 people at an LGBT Pride march in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on June 25, which was previously banned by the Istanbul’s Governor’s Office for the third consecutive year.
Around 2,000 security forces with helmets and shields took strict security measures and blocked the entrance of the square and İstiklal Avenue from the side streets, carrying out ID checks on passerbys.
Police initially warned a small group of activists who began to gather around the square waving rainbow flags and carrying LGBT symbols, stating that the march was unauthorized.
However, they broke up the protest when the activists refused to heed the call, firing teargas, rubber bullets and also using police dogs to scare the protesters off.
A police helicopter also hovered above the square to monitor the events.
Meanwhile, some 20 people who attempted to prevent the march from taking place were initially detained.
Police later intervened to stop a group of activists who gathered on side streets around the Cihangir neighborhood with water cannon vehicles, detaining another 24.
Among those detained was also Bram Janssen, a photojournalist for the Associated Press, despite holding a press card but not carrying his passport with him.
The detained were later taken to a security directorate in the Gayrettepe neighborhood.
The group of activists subsequently dispersed as police maintained security in the area.
The Istanbul Governor’s Office had announced on June 24 that it would not permit this year’s Pride March, citing security concerns and public order.
It marked the third year in a row that the march had been banned.
As in previous years, the march had also drawn threats from Turkish ultranationalist groups.
The Alperen Hearths, a right-wing youth organization linked to the religious nationalist Great Union Party (BBP), had vowed to forcibly prevent the march from taking place even if authorities allowed it.
The march had taken place without incident in Istanbul for 13 years, but in June 2015 police attacked it using tear gas and rubber bullets. The Governor’s Office had also banned the march in 2016 as the country witnessed attacks claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). However, in one of the biggest LGBT events in the mainly Muslim region, the 2014 Pride parade had drawn tens of thousands of people in Istanbul.
The Pride Committee had defied the ban stating that they would stage the march anyway this year.
“The true reason for the reactions toward a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate,” the organizers said.
“Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide,” they added.
“Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom,” they stated.