Police attack Istanbul Pride Week picnic at Maçka Park, detain one

Turkish police attacked the Istanbul Pride Picnic held at Maçka Park in the Şişli district on June 22, battering several people and detaining one. The severe police brutality came after the Şişli Governor's Office banned the picnic on the grounds that it could result in "public disorder."

Duvar English

Istanbul police on June 22 attacked several people at Maçka Park who had gathered to participate at a picnic as part of the activities of the LGBTI+ Pride Week.

The Istanbul Pride Week Committee announced on its Twitter account that one person had been detained during the attack.

"Several of our friends have been battered. We are not staying silent, we are not scared and are not obeying," the committee wrote. 

The Pride Week Committee also released a video footage showing the moments the police attacked LGBTI+ members and pushing them out of the park. 

The Boğaziçi LGBTI+ community said that several of its members had been battered and one person had their arm broken. 

The Istanbul branch of the Progressive Lawyers' Association (ÇHD) also released a statement saying that police had attacked the picnic with dogs and detained one person.

"Several of our colleagues, many LGBTI+ members have been battered and tortured. The waiting is continuing at Maçka Park. The police is undertaking a crime of hate," it said on Twitter. 

The severe brutality came after the Şişli Governor's Office banned the picnic on the grounds that it could result in "public disorder."

The governor's office told the Istanbul Pride Week Committee in a written notification that it had banned all Pride Week activities for a duration of 30 days. 

The picnic was initially scheduled to take place at Istanbul's Heybeliada but was later rescheduled following a ban of the police directorate of the Princes' Islands.

The latest ban of the authorities was slammed on social media, with the hashtag “Picnic cannot be banned” trending on Twitter.

“Authorities in Şişli have imitated the ones on the Islands and banned our picnic. This has not been enough for them and they have banned all our activities for 30 days within the boundaries of Şişli,” the Pride Week Committee said.

Several police officers were seen surrounding the park as they banned people from bringing items with the rainbow symbol. 

“They are not taking me into Maçka Park for wearing a mask with a rainbow on it. The police, who normally should issue a fine for not wearing a mask, is saying, 'Take off your mask and enter [the park] that way,'” prominent human rights lawyer Levent Pişkin wrote on Twitter.

Journalist Burcu Karakaş shared photos from inside the park showing several police officers waiting. She said that bags were being searched in front of the main entrance.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also a human rights lawyer, slammed the governor's office over its ban, asking why it took such a decision.

“I cannot find any remark, comment to make. Did you ban all activities in Şişli for 30 days because a picnic would take place within the framework of Pride 2021? What did you ban and for why exactly?” said.