Statement on Turkish Pride activists facing imprisonment

Nov 5, 2019
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Pride in London is calling on government ministers to intervene urgently following news that nineteen Pride activists are facing imprisonment for attending a student Pride march in Turkey.

Eighteen students and one academic from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara were arrested after police violently clamped down on the campus’s ninth Pride event on 10th May 2019. The activists are to face trial at the Ankara Criminal Court of First Instance No. 39 on 12th November 2019 after authorities branded the peaceful pride celebrations as an “unlawful assembly”.

Police officers broke up the gathering with pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, resulting in several injuries.

Michael Salter-Church MBE, Co-Chair of Pride in London, said:LGBT+ rights are human rights and no one should ever have to face imprisonment for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. It is truly shocking to hear that violence is being used by Turkish authorities to oppress LGBT+ groups, particularly given Turkey has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.

It goes without saying that the charges against these individuals must be dropped. We are urging the UK government to intervene with Abdülhamit Gül, Minister of Justice, so that the 19 activists can be exonerated immediately. We will not stop our campaign until the Turkish government ensures that future Pride events can take place in a peaceful manner, without interference.”

Pride in London is supporting this campaign, led by European Pride Organisers Association, in a number of ways:

  1. Raising awareness - calling on UK and international journalists to publicise the story through their publications and via their social media channels

  2. Supporting Amnesty International’s call for the charges to be dropped

  3. Writing to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and other Foreign & Commonwealth Office ministers to ask them to utilise their positions and leverage to intervene. Pride in London has also written to the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry. The more international pressure that is applied, the more chance we have of getting the charges dropped.

To help us raise awareness of the campaign, please click here to create a tweet using the hashtags #DefendMETUPride and #ODTÜnünOnurunaSahipÇık and tag @odtulgbti (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). You can also use these hashtags across other social media platforms.

David Parke
Head of PR
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