In The South

Turkish LGBT+ activist released, but prosecution continues

Besi Besemar February 7, 2018

Leading LGBT+ human rights defender, Ali Erol, co-founder of Kaos GL Association, Turkey’s first registered LGBT organisation, was released from detention yesterday, February 6.

Ali Erol
Ali Erol

Erol was arrested at the home he shares with his partner in Ankara, early on the morning of Friday, February 2.

While he has been released, his case remains under judicial review and his prosecution continues.

Erol is required to appear before the police periodically and is banned from leaving the country. The exact reasons surrounding his arrest and the prosecution has been kept confidential by authorities, though Kaos GL reports that the police had a warrant for his social media posts.

Yildiz Tar, media and communications coordinator at Kaos GL, said: “Secrecy is a very common strategy in Turkey. First they detain, ask questions about something, then they prepare the charges and we can only learn it in trial or just before the trial.”

Jessica Stern
Jessica Stern

Jessica Stern, Executive Director at OutRight Action International, added: “The ambiguity of the case and seemingly arbitrary reasons for Ali Erol’s arrest speaks to the deteriorating situation faced by LGBT, and all, human rights defenders in Turkey.

“The blanket ban on LGBT+ events already trampled on the rights to assembly, now even the rights to express oneself freely is being punished.

“The Turkish government needs to stop violating the human rights of its citizens immediately.”

In November 2017, the governor of Ankara banned all LGBT+ related events in the Turkish capital, citing that such events could spur public animosity from other groups, and the need to maintain safety and security. Since the ban, LGBT+ organisations have been on alert and face increasing pressure.

Under the current authoritarian regime, it has been reported that over 50,000 dissenters, opposition leaders, human rights activists, and journalists have been heavily persecuted and arrested.

A press release issued by Kaos GL, says: “Each year, thousands of human rights defenders are trying to be silence through fabricated or ridiculous reasons that turn into lengthy, costly and mostly unjust judicial processes.

Trying to suppress the courage of human rights defenders is a common tactic by those violating rights. Because of this, protecting human rights defenders is a fundamental area of work for human rights organisations across the world today. Because fear is as contagious as courage and fear can only be beaten by standing with courage.”