“Despite the general prohibition practices of the fascist regime in Turley, women did not leave the streets,” writes Arzu Demir to Yeni Ozgur Politika.
Between 8 March of last year and 8 March of this year, the coronavirus pandemic shook the entire world. Women had to turn back to their homes during this one year, domestic violence, sexism, discrimination, exploitation of women’s bodies and labor increased. States used the pandemic as an excuse to increase pressure on the oppressed. They also legalised oppressive policies under the name of “security”, as was the case of France.
It happened in Turkey too. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government used the pandemic as a tool for its own benefits. They passed new bills regarding prisons, introducing new powers for prison guards, passed a bill changing the structure of bar associations, introduced new oppressive tools to control social media and of course, prohibited any action on the streets under the name of coronavirus measures. Despite all of these general prohibition practices of the fascist regime in Turkey, women did not leave the streets.
Whilst the Turkish government continued its policy of banning demonstrations in Taksim Square in Istanbul and the Kızılay in Ankara, this year it did not feel confident to ban the events as a whole. It should be analyzed together with the government’s recently announced “Human Rights Action Plan” and the new constitution debate. If the 8 March had been totally banned, women would have still met in Taksim and resisted the police attacks.
These images would completely destroy the impact of the demagogic statements of the ruling power about human rights and democracy. Moreover this situation could have a deepening effect on the opposing parties within the power. Remember that the resistance of the women’s movement to the withdrawal of the Istanbul Convention was used to create a debate within the AKP.
Fair trials for men who killed women, implementing the Istanbul Convention, lifting the isolation in Imrali Island, not bearing the burden of the economic crisis on women, applying for menstrual leave, the ending of flexible work, wage increase, ending hate speech against LGBTI + were among all the demands of the protesters at 8 March this year. In response to the coronavirus measures taken by the government, “Manhood is more lethal than corona” was given as an answer to the state and women have opposed the oppressive and sexist politics of the AKP government.
This year, especially the common feature of all 8 March events was the high enthusiasm and energy of the protesters. Despite the pandemic, many women joined the protests on the west side of Turkey. Demonstrations were also held in more conservative cities like Konya, Kütahya, Osmaniye and Trabzon.
In the cities of SE Turkey, there were fewer women compared to the previous years. However, participation in Van (Wan) and Diyarbakır (Amed) was higher than the previous year.
Trans people were the pioneers of the LGBTI movement this year. The debate on “trans-exclusionary radical feminism” (TERF) between the feminist movement and the trans movement was also reflected in the placards carried during the night marches.
The distinguishing feature of this years march was that the AKP-MHP government’s (MHP is the Nationalist Movement Party, which forms the ruling coalition with the AKP)) targeted isolation policy against LGBTI+. The police did not let LGBTI community into the meeting area in Kadıköy on 5 March . Following the press statement in Kadıköy, trans people were subjected to police violence and detained. Rainbow flags were banned in Adana. However, women in the marches carried the rainbow flags and raised solidarity with the LGBTI+ movement.
Another thing that left its mark on the 8 March was the action that was carried out by three activist women, Burcugül Çubuk, Gamze Toprak and Hivda Selen. They were all under house arrest but still joined the protest at Taksim breaking the house arrest imposition as they removed the electronic clamps from their ankles. This act was a powerful resistance against the government’s new punishment policy and gave courage to all women.
In summary, the women’s struggle for freedom showed that women will not step back against the fascism of the Palace, women are dedicated to their activism and will continue to protect their rights.