Tuğba Özer – Losing ground and doubling down: Police violence on increase in Turkey

The covid crisis has hit Turkey hard and made its mark on the government’s approval ratings. The country already has the highest number of police officers per capita in Europe and the regime is clamping down on dissent with increasing force – be it Pride marches or women’s protests for the Istanbul Convention. Thousands of women and LGBTQ+ people showed up in the heart of Istanbul during the restrictions imposed under the pretext of pandemic and broke through the police barricades on 26 June 2021. Rainbow flags were banned, journalists strangled, beaten and arrested for recording the police violence.

These are usual scenes in Turkey now. Police brutality has long been prevalent in Turkey, but its intensity has increased recently. Those flooding the streets to demand justice, democracy and equality are usually greeted by riot police blocking their every step. Although the right to protest is engraved in the constitution, in practice it often ends up prohibited for arbitrary reasons, such as COVID-19 safety measures or ‘disturbing public order’….