Statement of protest against the detention of Kurdish women activists in Diyarbakır

Berlin, March 24, 2022


To whom it may concern:

We strongly denounce the raids, detentions, and interrogations of around 24 women from the city of Diyarbakır, one of the largest cities in the Kurdish region of Turkey, by the police since the early hours of March 16, 2022, when the authorities began to raid their homes as part of a concerted anti-feminist investigation against women activists that was launched by the local Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2021, following the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the protest against Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention on November 25, 2021, as well as the March 8th International Women’s Strike day demonstrations.

Through our friends from The Purple Meridians, a project on gender equality in the film industry, we learned that between March 16 and 17, eleven of the women were arrested and sent to prison. Detainees included the former co-mayor of the Sur district, union officials, members of City council, HDP party members, and women’s rights activists. Seven, including the president and two members of the women’s association Rosa Kadın Derneği, were released with the obligation to report to the authorities on a daily basis. According to first-hand accounts, the detainees were kept in deliberately miserable conditions for almost two days before being called to testify before a judge starting at near midnight on March 17 and throughout the night – apparently a well-known intimidation technique meant to add psychological pressure on the detainees.

We second the statements issued by The Purple Meridians and other organizations that call for the immediate release of the eleven arrested women and the suspension of the ongoing persecution of the seven already released ones. The Diyarbakır authorities need to come to their senses and fully comply to the fundamental nature of women rights, gender equality, and the freedom of expression. As much as this may appear like a futile gesture of protest from a distant place, we want to assert our deep solidarity with the women activists and cultural workers from Diyarbakır. We’re thus joining the translocal effort at protesting the legal and police violence exerted against women whose right to political and cultural action cannot be denied.

Harun Farocki Institut, Berlin

March 24th, 2022 — Rosa Mercedes