April 9, 2013

Turkey: Police Raid on Ishtar Center Hits Women in Mersin

From Bianet:

Recent police raids on Ishtar Women Center in Mersin province affected the number of applications in women shelters after 4 organization members have been arrested for allegations including organizing an alternative kids parade and holding lectures on social gender.

Mersin - BIA News Desk
09 April 2013, Tuesday

4 members of Ishtar Women Center, a local woman organization under the umbrella of Akdeniz Municipality in Mersin province, have been kept behind bars for the past five months for charges related with being "an illegal organization member" and "propagating for an illegal organization". Their case will be heard on April 10.

Fahriye Cengiz, a clinical psychologist from Ishtar center, said 4 organization members have been arrested for allegations including organizing an alternative kids parade, holding lectures on social gender, attending women studies conferences, and showing up at the local branch of Peace and Democracy Party.

Cengiz claimed that the police seized documents including the recordings of therapy session without a court consent.

"These recordings were used against a woman. She was arrested for being a KCK (Kurdish Communities Union) organization member, even though she was only counting her anxieties over her son who is a PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) guerrilla. Seizing of therapy session without proper consent is neither ethical nor lawful," Cengiz said.

Cengiz also claimed the police raids to be unlawful since police forces raided the center headquarters one night and unplugged the phone cords at the building so that security guards would not alert the representatives.

"Police raids affected the activities of Ishtar Women Center," Cengiz said. "Charges related to being an illegal organization members scared everybody. I guess it was intended to create such a psychology. The perception on our center has altered dramatically. Both the number of applications and volunteers took a serious dive. Police even detained security staff at women's shelter. Women affected by male violence started questioning each others ethnicities. Less women are applying for shelter now."

The court hearing of Roza Yaruk and Besime Gülhan who were arrested on 25 September 2012, is scheduled to April 10. The court hearing of Menice Ürün, Nazan Dündar and İshak İregür, who were arrested on 3 November 2012, is scheduled to April 24.

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