Thousands took to the streets of Turkey on July 1st to protest the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to combat violence against women.
Amid a heightened police presence, protesters in Istanbul gathered in Shishane Square, holding banners reading “We are not giving up the Istanbul Convention” and shouting slogans “Long live the solidarity of women”, “We are not silent, we are not afraid and we will not obey” and “This is just the beginning, we will continue to fight.”
Initially, police did not allow the women to walk to Taksim Square, but eventually allowed them to walk in small groups to nearby Galatasaray Square.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Istanbul’s Istiklal pedestrian street in Beyoglu district, using tear gas to stop protesters.
In response to women’s slogans, “open the barricade” and their attempts to pass through the barricades, the police suppressed tear-gas protest.
Dozens of videos, photos and comments were posted on social media under the label
# 1TemmuzdaİsyanVar (Protest July 1)
In Ankara, women gathered on Sakarya Boulevard, urging the government to change its decision on the convention.
“We will not be silent, we will not be afraid, we will not worship,” the women chanted, holding banners reading “We are not renouncing the Istanbul Convention.”
In Izmir, women gathered at the Turkyan Saylan Cultural Center, from where they tried to head to the ferry port of Alsanjak, but encountered police barricades.
Women chanted “Build barricades for killers, not women,” and police used tear gas against protesters.
Despite police intervention, the women eventually managed to break through the barricades and continue their demonstration in front of the ferry port of Alsanjak.
The protests came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended a 2011 withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.
Erdogan said Turkey can tackle violence against women by using and further developing local laws.
“Our battle did not start with the Istanbul Convention and will not end with our withdrawal from the treaty,” he said.
The withdrawal from the pact “will not lead to a legal flaw in preventing violence against women,” the presidency said in the case.
Ankara’s withdrawal has drawn condemnation from the European Union, and critics say it puts Turkey even further away from the bloc it has been applying for since 1987.
This month, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic sent a letter to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, expressing concern about the rise of homophobic language by some officials, some of whom were referring to the convention.