Women in the Kurdish-majority province of Şırnak (Şirnex) in south-eastern Turkey faced police violence when they gathered in the city centre to protest against gender-based violence on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Turkish police prevented the women from marching and making statements, resulting in the arrest of 21 people. Those detained included activists from the Peace Mothers group, who campaign for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, alongside Kurdish journalists who documented the police intervention, and women politicians.
The police justified their intervention and arrests by citing the governorate’s ban on ‘demonstrations and gatherings’. The police’s violent intervention sparked immediate condemnation and protests.
A protest was held in front of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Provincial Organisation building against the police attack. Newroz Uysal Aslan, an MP from the People’s Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), addressed the gathering and said that the detainees had been beaten while in custody.
Aslan expressed her strong disapproval and said: “The Şırnak Governorate and the police have detained our friends with torture. We will never accept such practices. They want to silence the voices of women here. But their torture, pressure, detentions and arrests will not be enough to silence women’s voices”.
Underlining the gravity of the situation, Uysal revealed that the cameras of journalists present were broken and confiscated during the police operation. Despite these challenges, Uysal reiterated the commitment of Kurdish women to continue their struggle against violence.
“Twenty-one people were arrested under torture. We will keep vigil here until all our friends are released,” declared Uysal.
After the statement, a 10-minute sit-in was organised in front of the provincial building as a symbol of solidarity and resistance against police violence.