Put on trial for holding rainbow flags representing the LGBTI+ community, 12 students of Boğaziçi University appeared before the judge. The court board has partly lifted the judicial control measures, ruling that international travel bans shall remain in effect.
* Photo: Boğaziçi Solidarity
Taken into custody in front of the North Campus of Boğaziçi University in İstanbul on March 25 on the grounds that they were holding rainbow flags representing the LGBTI+ community and put on trial shortly afterwards, the students had their first hearing today (June 3).
The defendants and their attorney Levent Pişkin attended the hearing at the İstanbul 24th Heavy Penal Court.
Taking the floor at the hearing, attorney Pişkin said, “The judicial control measures which have been in effect for four months have turned into a punishment. We request the immediate lifting of measures.”
However, the prosecutor of the hearing demanded that the measures remain in force. Announcing its ruling, the court board has partly lifted the judicial control measures, ruling that the international travel bans shall remain in effect. While today’s hearing lasted for only half an hour due to the pandemic, the next hearing will be held on June 28, 2021.
‘Your pressure has failed’
Before the hearing was held at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan, the Boğaziçi Solidarity platform made a press statement.
“Our gatherings here are neither the first nor the last. We know it, but we cry out loud that we will never step back from defending our rights of existence even for a day,” said the Boğaziçi Solidarity platform.
Underlining that “LGBTI+s are one of the groups who have been supporting the struggle since the first day of Boğaziçi resistance and who have faced attacks the most” over the course of the protests, the platform said, “We, as LGBTI+s, have repeatedly shown that the pressures on us have failed; they have enabled us to stick together more instead of separating us.”
‘You will get used to our existence’
Referring to the closure of LGBTI+ Studies Club (BÜLGBTI+) following the appointment of Melih Bulu as a rector, the platform said:
“You thought that you closed our club; we responded: Every club is BÜLGBTI+. You attacked our flags that we carry in squares with your media that you use to stifle the country; we adorned the squares and streets with our colors. You targeted our pride marches; we, in our Pride Week, stood up against you to cry out that we were not afraid of your attacks.
“You tried to prevent us from exercising our right to protest by the bans imposed by the sub-governor’s offices a day before; but, as you see, we are here again. You will get used to our existence, you will come to terms with it; because we are here and we are not going anywhere.”
‘We defend our existence’
“Who can say that we are given the right to live in a country where there is an attempt to consider it a crime that the LGBTI+s, who have been subjected to the inhumane practices of the state and police for centuries, are on the street and carry a rainbow flag,” the platform has asked, reiterating that the LGBTI+ community “continues to exist and defends their existence in the faces of those forces trying to crash them on every opportunity.”
The platform underlined that “they did not accept to live in a regime where there is an attempt to ban the LGBTI+s from walking on the streets in their own colors, to erase the LGBTI+s from all types of protest demonstrations, to sow discord between them and the feminist struggle through the rainbow flag on March 8 Women’s Day, as well as before and after this day.”
Reiterating that they do not accept to live in such a regime, Boğaziçi Solidarity noted that “they did not give up their struggle.”
‘You cannot erase the rainbow’
Touching upon today’s hearing, the students said: “We are here today to cry out that our friends irregularly and unjustly detained in front of our campus, with a rainbow flag in their hands, will never walk alone.
“You cannot prevent us from being ourselves even for a day. Not a cloud, a wind or a fascist dictatorship can manage to erase the rainbow from the sky. We will keep on shining with our all colors and drown the darkness that you are trying to bring upon us. Our existence cannot be banned, LGBTI+s cannot be silenced and rainbow cannot be banned.”
Sub-governor’s office banned it
Shortly after the Boğaziçi Solidarity announced that they would hold a press statement in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul and called on people to join them for the statement, the Sub-Governor’s Office of Kağıthane banned the meetings and demonstrations.
Making a statement in response to this, the platform said, “We are insistent on the statement that we will hold before the hearing; we are up against the pressures and detentions. Rainbow cannot be banned.”