Another trans woman murdered in Turkey

March 14, 2009

Turkish flagIf it wasn’t obvious before, it should be now: Turkey is failing miserably to investigate transphobic violence and ensure that human rights legislation is effectively implemented.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the stabbing of Dilan Pirinc – a trans woman living in Istanbul – and the failure of an ambulance to attend the scene of the attack (link here).

It now seems that on the same day (March 10) another trans woman, Ebru Soykan, was also stabbed to death in her own home. Ms Soykan was a prominent activist with Lambda Istanbul, the Turkish LGBT solidarity organisation which has also had its own share of troubles in the past year (link here).

Members of Lambda have said that in the last month Ebru had asked the Prosecutor’s Office for protection from the man who had beaten her on several occasions and threatened to kill her. Lambda Istanbul was told that a few weeks ago police detained the man but released him two hours later. The same man is under police custody as the murder suspect.


This is the second killing of a member of Lambda Istanbul in the past year. In July 2008, an unknown person shot and killed 26-year-old Ahmet Yildiz as he was leaving a café near the Bosporus. No one has been charged with this crime.


In 2007, Lambda Istanbul twice submitted a file of 146 cases they had documented to the Istanbul Provincial Human Rights Board, many dealing with reports of violence against transgender people, including cases of violence by the police. Several of these cases had been reported to the police. The then-deputy governor of Istanbul told Lambda Istanbul that the governor’s office had found no records of these allegations and complaints in the police districts involved.

“Until an anti-discrimination law is in place to protect the LGBT community and the police take seriously their duty to protect everyone, these murders will continue,” said [Juliana] Cano Nieto [of HRW]. “Turkey cannot continue to ignore its obligations when lives are at stake.”

(Via HRW)

Perhaps the Turkish authorities – and those who are involved in the current negotiations for Turkey to be given full membership of the EU – have forgotten that Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which protects the right of every person to their life) also requires police forces to take reasonable steps to protect a person when they receive credible information that there is a risk to that person’s life.


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