400 arrested for defiantly marching in banned Istanbul Pride in violent crackdown
“The rainbow is not a crime. Discrimination is a crime!”
In Istanbul Sunday, Turkish police arrested hundreds of marchers, protesters and bystanders in and around Taksim Square, where LGBTQ people had gathered to begin a Pride march banned by the local governor.
In shocking video flooding the Internet, police in riot gear corral, beat and detain marchers through the Turkish city’s serpentine streets.
Nearly 400 people were arrested and detained overnight.
In one clip, a group of young provocateurs dressed in black can be seen literally pushing their fundamentalist message on LGBTQ members of the community.
Kaos GL, one of the largest LGBTQ rights groups in Turkey, said the arrests started prior to the intended 5 p.m. march start. Metro services had been shut down for several hours by authorities in an effort stem the flow of supporters into central Istanbul.
Riot police then began entering bars and other local venues, according to witnesses, arresting people “at random.”
Agence France-Presse reported four busloads of detained protesters were taken away, including the outlet’s chief photographer, Bülent Kılıç.
DISK Basin-Is, a journalist union, said protesters were physically attacked and beaten by police.
While authorities attempted to stop anyone filming the arrests, video of the crackdown soon appeared across social media, provoking outrage.
The march was officially banned earlier in the week under Turkey’s Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings.
“We have obtained information that between 21 June 2022 (Tuesday) and 23 June 2022 (Thursday) gatherings, press releases, marches, distribution of leaflets, etc are planned to be held within the scope of the 30th ‘Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week,” the governor’s office said in a statement shutting down the event.
The Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride Week Committee called that decision “illegal,” saying they would use “our rights [to] make the necessary objections.”
Although Pride celebrations have been banned in Istanbul since 2015, large crowds have gathered annually in support of LGBTQ rights.
France24 reported local residents showed solidarity with the protesters, banging pans from their windows and balconies.
“We do not give up,” said Kaos GL, the Turkish LGBTQ rights group. “We are not afraid.”