V. A Social Hell: State Violence, Abuse, and Harassment against Transgender People

A. Hulya’s Story

Hülya has left the country now. She lived as a transvestite and sex worker in Istanbul for over 10 years, and faced police abuse many times: in Turkey, she told Human Rights Watch, “people pretend that transvestites don’t exist and yet they try to destroy us.”128 In November 2004, for example, one of her customers produced a gun, identified himself as a policeman, and demanded that she perform a sexual act, which she was unwilling to do.  He then handed her over to other police, who beat her on the arms and feet.  They arrested her and charged her with offenses against public morality.129

When we spoke to her in Istanbul in 2003, she showed Human Rights Watch researchers scars on her shoulders and feet left as the result of an incident that August. One night while she was waiting for customers on a street in the Kadıköy district,

People came who acted like customers. I saw only one person in the car but when I got in, there were two. They said they were police and they had uniforms under their coats. The car moved and I asked where we were going—I thought to the police station. But they said: “Shut up and do what we say. If you don’t, you’ll be killed.” And they put a gun against my head.

They told me to get undressed … and the one who was the boss said, “Shut up: we will destroy you all.” I refused to undress. He took a knife and started to stab my leg. So I undressed.

We were in a dark road on the edge of the city and they stopped. In the car, they made me go from front seat to back seat and give them blow jobs, then they took turns raping me from behind. And while that was happening the torture started. The one in the front of the car was saying paşa130 to the other one—the officer in the back of the car was the one who was beating me. First the officer started hitting me with his hand—beating and slapping me, and pulling my hair. Then he started to smoke, and stamped out the cigarettes on my toes. Then he started pummeling me. If I said anything he would hit me harder and harder. And always saying they would destroy us all. I couldn’t say anything because there was a gun against my head. He took my shoe and with the heel he started to hit my face. There were wounds on my lips and all my face was full of scars and the two men were raping me one by one. I said, “Please stop”: now my face was unrecognizable. But he didn’t listen to me. There was blood all over the car.

Then the car was moving on … and the two men talked about what they would do with me. One said: “Let’s burn her some more.” The other said, “No, she’ll shout and someone will hear.” One wanted to stab me, the other wanted to smash my skull. …

We got out of the car at another building which was under construction. They made me turn my face to the wall. Then they were hitting my head with bricks. I fell down; my head was spinning and they were kicking me. They hit my stomach very hard. Then I passed out and maybe they thought I was dead or dying. I was naked and I was bleeding a great deal.

When they kidnapped me, it was 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. When I woke up there was sunshine on my face. I was naked. There was nothing that belonged to me there. They acted like professionals because they’d left nothing to find them. They didn’t say anything about where they came from—they had no conversation except about what to do with me.

I got to my feet and started back, hiding my genitals with my hands. I saw a car, and I asked them to call the police. And the people in the car gave me a skirt and a T-shirt.

Police took Hülya to the police station in Tuzla, a district outside Istanbul,

It was morning, but I waited and waited, and it was evening before they took me to the hospital. They kept saying in the station, “Wash your face, wash your face.” I think they wanted me to lose the evidence. I didn’t. So they waited a while to take me to the hospital. Maybe they thought some of the evidence would be lost that way. First we went to the Çapa State Hospital, then to the Tuzla Hospital.

I was telling the doctors to do sperm tests but they didn’t. The doctors didn’t want to, they said the sperm test wasn’t their work—they said the same thing in both Çapa and Tuzla. It was a Friday or Saturday and they gave me another appointment to come back Tuesday.

Often doctors won’t let transvestites enter a hospital, even when they are wounded. I felt these doctors weren’t taking me seriously. They wrote a report saying that I had the scars on my face and on my body, but it was enough for them. … They didn’t even give me medicine for the wounds on my shoulders or my feet or my lips.

I went to the Human Rights Association and Lambda Istanbul. When I went to the hospital on Tuesday it was with someone from Lambda Istanbul. And the doctors in the hospital told me then that two days had passed and any sperm was lost. We cannot use DNA to find the people, they told me, unless you have, for instance, some flesh in your fingernails.

“There are lots of people with stories like mine who are afraid to talk,” she said. “Lots of these things happen to transvestites in Turkey.”131

B. “The Police Should Protect Us, Not Beat Us”

Police violence against transgender people in Turkey is regular and unabated. Many transgender people work as sex workers, often reflecting the impossibility of getting other types of jobs. They recounted repeated stories of abuse.

Ayla, who transgendered from male to female, recalled an incident that still haunted her in 2007:

In the summer of 2005 I was working in Tarlabaşı [a street in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, near Taksim Square]. It was around 8:30 p.m. Some girls broke the window of a police car. I saw everyone run and so I ran as well. I tripped. When I turned around I saw policemen around me with batons.

They started to hit me; they handcuffed me and took me to the police station. I wasn’t given a chance to say anything. When I tried to speak they shouted at me and didn’t let me talk. I was kept in jail overnight until my lawyer arrived. I knew some of the policemen that attacked me so I filed a complaint against four of them.132

Prosecutors started a case against the men, but Ayla faced further threats from the policemen she accused. During 2005 Ayla appeared twice at court hearings; in both instances, the accused police officers did not attend. At a third hearing in June 2006, the prosecutor’s office compelled the men to appear, but the hearing was postponed. Shortly after, in July 2006, the defendants were transferred to work in Mardin, a city in southeast Turkey, even as the trial was continuing.133

Ayla recounted:

After the third hearing, other members of the Beyoğlu police station started to threaten me. One night they took me to a graveyard in Kasimpaşa. It was around 11 p.m. and I was again working in Tarlabaşı [Street]. They [the policemen] put me in a car that belonged to the police, but had no emblems. My flatmate saw them taking me and informed my friends.

They started to call the police and look for me. They [the police] finally let me go. After this incident I started a case against them for threatening me. At the same time they [the police] started a case against me for damaging state property.

If I had not been a transsexual, of course, they wouldn’t have treated me like this. For two years I have been hiding from them, so I work irregularly to avoid them. …  I’m still afraid.134

Erin Keskin, who has represented transgender people in criminal courts for over five years, explained, “We have never won [criminal] cases against the police.”135

Legislative changes in recent years have given police additional powers to arrest people based on perception or prejudice. In March 2005 the Kabahatler Kanunu—“Law on Public Disgrace” or “Misdemeanor Law” —entered into force.136 It lists, and punishes with fines, a number of misdemeanors –among them begging, gambling, drunkenness, making a noise, disturbing the peace, “occupying” the street, smoking where restricted in closed places, failing to disclose one’s identity to a public official, polluting the environment, hanging posters in public places, or carrying an unlicensed gun. The law states that it “aims to protect public order, general morality, general health, the environment, and the economic order.”137

Some of the prohibited behaviors are specific, some sweepingly vague; the latter give wide license for prejudicial enforcement. Furthermore, the Law on the Powers and Duties of the Police (Polis Vazife ve Selahiyet Yasası) was amended in June 2007.138 Article 4 for the first time formally gave the police discretionary powers to stop and ask for identification, “in order to prevent a crime or a misdemeanor [kabahat],” “to prevent people escaping after a crime and to identify perpetrators of a crime or misdemeanor,” “to identify individuals who have an arrest warrant or forced summons issued against them,” or “to prevent any present or potential dangers to the life, bodily integrity or property of individuals, or to society.”139 It also gave police wide power to search people and vehicles.

These discretionary powers substantially increase the scope of policing without judicial scrutiny. Moreover, the interpretation of key terms in both these laws—the understanding of what is “moral,” the definition of “public order” and its dereliction—are left to the police. 

Transgender people also report that unofficial police practices and orders, lacking any legal basis, contribute to harassment. For instance, “There are two police stations [in Istanbul] that forbid transgender people to pass by them,” explained Esmeray, a transgender woman and a human rights activist. Filiz told Human Rights Watch how in October 19, 2007, she made the mistake of passing one: 

I was in a bakery in front of the police station [the Beyoğlu district police headquarters] in Tarlabaşı.  … A policeman that I knew saw me and came towards me. He said they wanted to see me at the police station. I asked him why and explained I had just come from the dentist. He said the chief wanted to see me, so I went. When I got to the station the main police officer asked why I was here since I knew I couldn’t, and so once again I explained. He said, “If you come here again I will break your teeth.”140

Esmeray encountered more direct brutality when she infringed the rule. By day, Esmeray works part-time for a feminist organization. Her most direct route home leads by the Tarlabaşı police station, where the commander had issued informal instructions that forbade transgender people from passing in front of it. She recalls a late evening on June 2007.

I knew this “law” but the police have always considered me the “decent Esmeray” … Then someone I didn’t know asked me to stop. At first I didn’t. Once again I heard, “I’m telling you to stop!” The police officer on duty at the [Tarlabaşı] police station walked towards me with an angry attitude. He punched me in the eye. Some other of his colleagues came and started hitting me. They beat me up.

Esmeray filed a complaint, and the policeman who attacked her apologized two weeks after the attack: “He said that the chief of the district had previously told officers, ‘You’re not attacking them [transgender people] and that’s why they are still passing the police station.’”141

Esmeray’s work as a feminist and human rights activist, she said, gave her courage to stand up. Few transgender people we spoke to, however, said that they would report harassment by, or to, the police. “I’m not going to follow up,” Filiz said. “We already know the law [the order not to pass the police station]. The details, we don’t ask for them at all. We know how it goes.”142

On April 9, 2007, Lambda Istanbul submitted a dossier documenting cases of police abuse and violence against transgender people to the Istanbul Provincial Human Rights Board, an entity subject to the Governor’s Office in Istanbul. Months later, the Governor’s Office responded that

In a September 4, 2007 meeting of the district committee, in response to information and complaints regarding transvestites and transsexuals in the vicinity, it was decided that when enforcing their public and safety security duties, police forces were not in violation of the rights of the individuals involved. Such forces have carefully abided by national legal measures when undertaking their duties, and in order for there to be no question of rights violations, the necessary sensitivity has been observed and was reported to the District Security Authority.143

However, when Human Rights Watch researchers asked the governor if he was aware of claims of police abuse against LGBT people he said, “No information has come to us. If there are complaints these should be sent to prosecutors and to us, because we haven’t received them.” 

Human Rights Watch showed Lambda Istanbul’s inquiry and the response. The Governor said,

You have misunderstood the petition. There cannot be such a reply from us. It has been researched and investigated [referring to the possible violations by the police] and decided that these have not taken place. If the investigation reached this outcome, such a thing [the violations] never occurred.

C. The Balyoz Team

Many transgender people in Ankara recounted to Human Rights Watch their experiences with plainclothes police who identified themselves as belonging to a mysterious team called Balyoz or “sledgehammer.” Accounts suggest that it is mandated to cleanse areas of Ankara, particularly the center, of sex workers as well as transgender people; members single out transgender victims for insult as well as intimidation—“They always call us ‘ibne,’ ‘top;’ they say ‘you are fucking your asses,’” Bahar, a transgender sex worker, told Human Rights Watch.144 Human Rights Watch received reports of abuses against by this team dating back to 2001.  Victims’ stories indicate that it has continued to harass transgender people in the city until now.  

Fulden, a transsexual, told Human Rights Watch that one day in 2002,

I had sold my car and was living on what I had earned there, I was not in prostitution then, I was just on the street in daytime. A taxi stopped and I didn’t like the look of the driver and I had lots of cash with me. So I hesitated. There were plainclothes police near there, they saw me talking to the driver—and they stopped me. They were talking on their radios and using the word Balyoz. A bunch of them came, I don’t know how many. They beat me with clubs on the head and body, put me in a car and took me to the Morality Division of the police department. I wasn’t listed in their records—the records had my old name, before I got the pink ID. They registered me under my new name, with my photo and prints, as a prostitute.145

Deniz described how Balyoz squads work in concert with local gangs:

It was about the beginning of summer 2003. My roommate who is also a transvestite and I were trying to find customers on the street. These men stopped in front of us with their car. They were psychopaths, with knife scars. There were four of them: they looked like the MHP gangs, in their early twenties. [The Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi or National Action Party, a neo-fascist political party, is known for its violent youth groups.] They had knives in their hands and wanted us to get in the car.

We saw the Balyoz team about twenty meters away. We thought they would treat these guys the same way they treat us. But they didn’t come closer. We had to get in the car. But before we went 400 meters, Balyoz blocked the way. We thought they’d take us to the station and we were happy; it seemed better than what those guys would have done to us.

But the police officer greeted those guys one by one, kissing their cheeks. They were using nicknames; they knew each other. They just handed us back over to those guys. The guys drove us somewhere isolated, outside Ankara. They raped us and robbed us, took all our money. And left us there.146

Deniz told Human Rights Watch, “They usually ask for oral sex, and take it by force. But one time it wasn’t oral. Balyoz team took me from car and took me to a side street and touched me everywhere there. It was a year ago. But it keeps happening all the time—being touched all over. Even inside.” 147 

Fulden recalls,

I was working in my car one night and they [referring to Balyoz] stopped me. They took me to Çankaya police station, the third floor, and covered my eyes with a black strip. I don’t know where they took me but it was some other building. They wanted me to get undressed, they said not to undo my eyes—and they doused me with huge hoses. They made me open my legs because I am a transsexual, and they put this pressured water into my vagina. It was agony.

Giray, 27 when we spoke to her in 2007, described an attack:

I was going home. A civilian car with four people inside appeared. They came out and attacked me. They slapped me. They said “We are Balyoz—what are you doing?” A minibus appeared and the four men pushed me in and took me to the Morality Police. I was held at the police station for two days.  There were other three transsexuals with me in the cell.  We were not registered at the police station. They never took our names.

After two days five policemen took me and put me in the minivan. They slapped me again in the car and I was left in Mamak [a district in Ankara] in a garbage dump at around 3 a.m. I went to the military [28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade] there and they took me home.

I complained about this in Kavaklıdere police station. I gave a statement. They said they would call me back. It has been four years and they haven’t called.148

In the summer of 2005, Selay was walking on the street near her home when four men who said they were Balyoz members seized her, forced her into a car, and took her out of Ankara to a town called Gölbaşı. “There they attacked me with batons. They kicked my stomach and punched me in my face,” she remembers.  While being beaten, Selay managed to take her cell phone and call her partner.

I said, “I am with Balyoz and they are killing me!” They [the members of the team] panicked. They tried to clean me up when they saw I had called someone. Then they put me back in the car. I was taken to Gasp Büro Amirligi Headquarters. The head of the Balyoz —I don’t remember his name—called me into his office. He knew by then that my lawyer and my friends were looking for me and he asked me not to complain. “If you complain you won’t be able to live in Ankara,’” he said. For an hour we talked and I was so scared. He said to me, “Phone your friends and lawyer and ask them not to come.” I told him I just wanted one thing. I asked him to let me talk to the Balyoz that had attacked me. He called them. When I saw them I said, “Only you and me and God know this violence. I am the daughter of a mother and you will suffer because of this. I cursed them: ‘God will make you suffer.’”

I decided not to complain. …. They wrote up a statement. I read it. It said that I was taken into the car voluntarily, that my head injury was because I accidentally hit my head against the window. Balyoz are famous for attacking transgender people. I stayed in constant fear they would take me again.149

In 2003 the Director of the Human Rights Presidency attached to the Prime Minister’s office asserted to Human Rights Watch that: “In the organization of the police departments nationwide, there is no such subdivision as Balyoz. People might band together in a group, informally, as a team. I don’t think they would call it Balyoz, though.”150 

D. Fines, Arbitrary Detention, and Abuse

Transgender people in Turkey are used to “the standard way police treat transvestites: they catch us, they beat us, and they take us to the police station or the STD [sexually transmitted disease] hospital to ‘rest’ there for a while.”151 Police also use the new powers in the revised police law and the Misdemeanor Law (Kabahatler Kanunu) to detain and fine transgender people, using articles on noise, disturbances, and disobeying orders against them.152

Belgin, a human rights activist from Lambda Istanbul stated that “[t]hese new laws give them [the police] more control. Police are so empowered they feel they can do whatever they want.”153 Attorneys agreed. “With the misdemeanor law we have new problems. They [transgender people] are kept in police stations when they are caught in the street; they are subject to a 117 TRY [US$88] fine, and they keep them for five or six hours,” explained Senem, a lawyer working with Pembe Hayat, an organization based in Ankara that defends transgender people’s rights. For example, the police took Ayla to the station twice in 2007, and though not charged she was fined. “I paid 20 [Turkish] lira [US$15] in each case to be let go.”154

Şule, a 26-year-old transgender woman in Istanbul, was taken to the Pınarbaşı police station and detained at least four times in May 2007. “Each time we had to sign a report and got fined 117 TRY [US$88] for indecency. If you don’t pay, the fine keeps going up and they can arrest you.” According to the Misdemeanor Law, the person fined has 15 days to pay at the maliye vergi dairesi (tax office). If the fine is not paid within the 15 days it accrues interests.155 Şule lived in Izmir before moving to Istanbul. “All the people I know in Izmir have been take to the police and fined. [In Izmir] they would insult us, harass us and physically abuse us in front of the other people.”156

Many transgender people complained they are targeted for fines, and police harassment, whether engaged in sex work or not. Fulden, in Ankara, told Human Rights Watch that “If a transvestite or transsexual goes out after dark, even for a social reason, they will arrest you for prostitution. So we can’t even go out with boyfriends—we can’t have real relationships—because we may lose jobs or face trouble with the police.”157

Ceren, for example, told Human Rights Watch how in summer 2007 she was on her way home when “Balyoz came by my car and asked for my ID card. I showed it and they fined me, they then threw my ID and said ‘Ibne, you won’t be able to work here.’ One month ago I was fined 325 TRY [US$247] more. They caught me; they took me to the police station and there they fined me. They put me in a cell. There were other transsexuals. I was the seventh person there and they kept me for four hours. [Since summer 2007] I have paid 678 TRY [US$515].”

The harassment goes beyond the streets and reaches into private homes. Ebru recalled a dinner party in Istanbul:

In early 2007 we were about to have dinner in a friend’s house. Three or four police officers came in and asked for ID’s. They put them through the general information database [taking the IDs to the police car, which had computer connection to the general database]. We were all cleared, but they took my friend who owned the house, and another friend with her boyfriend. All were taken to the police station and charged with supplying a place for prostitution. They had to spend the night there. They were released the next day without charges.158

According to Ebru’s attorney, “In court cases filed against transgender people the police often say they have proof of prostitution because condoms were found.”

The well-known transgender activist Demet Demir observed that police show an evident, general discriminatory attitude towards transgender people. “Just because we look the way we look, they fine us,” she explained.159 Filiz also said, “Police are softer on female sex workers, but they are really hard on transgender people who do sex work.”160 Vildan Yirmibeşoğlu, a member of the Istanbul Provincial Human Rights Board confirmed the unequal treatment towards transgender people, mentioning those who have to do sex work. “Transgender people,” she explained, “are not given jobs. Because they can’t find a job they do sex work. Even a lot of people who are not conservative still say that they don’t want to work or live with them. The public says they don’t want them.”161

E. Client Violence, Gangs, and Impunity

On October 6, 2007, Hürriyet newspaper reported that two men knifed two transgender women in an apartment complex in Feriköy, a neighborhood in Istanbul. Simge died from a cut to the throat; Funda survived, severely wounded. According to the newspaper, they had reportedly brought the men home after agreeing on a price in Tarlabaşı Street. The men attacked them in the flat.162 According to Lambda Istanbul, Funda remains in hiding, afraid to talk about the experience.163 Lambda has not received updates on the case, nor has it received information that anyone has been arrested or prosecuted.

Transgender people in Turkey report steady abuse from the communities around them, as well as—among sex workers—from their own customers. Human Rights Watch heard stories both of individual and gang attacks, and of the authorities’ failure to investigate or respond to such violations.

In the Ankara districts of Eryaman and Dikmen between 2004 and 2007, gangs systematically targeted transgender women. The attacks were similar in both districts: unidentified men in private vehicles harassed, beat, and raped transgender people doing sex work in the areas. The assaults in Dikmen took place in 2004 and 2005; the Eryaman attacks began in April 2006 and continued until December 2007. Transgender people in these neighborhoods learned to flee at the sight of a green Ford Taunus or a white car. We also heard reports of attacks starting January 2007 in the Esat district by the same assailants known in Eryaman.

Deniz talked about her experience in Dikmen in the summer of 2004; while telling the story she was shaking:

I was hitchhiking. Two guys came walking towards me. A white car came behind me and stopped next to me. I tried to run away, but I stumbled into the guys that were walking towards me. One was carrying a scalpel, the other one an iron stick. The guy with the knife grabbed my hair with one hand and put the knife on my throat with the other. They guy with the iron stick attacked me; he hit me on my shoulder. They threw me in the car.

I was frozen. They [three men in total] took me to a parking lot in an isolated zone in Dikmen. One of the guys was caressing my face with a scalpel, then took a clump of my hair and cut it off. Two of them—the guy with the scalpel and the guy carrying the iron stick—wanted to have sex with me, but the driver, said: “Don’t touch her.” He [the driver] took me 100 meters from there and raped me, while the others waited by the car. We were there for four or five hours. They took lots of pills and were waiting for them to come down. I thought I was going to die and since I didn’t want to die I played some love games with one of them so that they would take me back where I was hitchhiking and they did.164

Stories from Eryaman are similar. Ceren, 37, and Bahar, 40, along with others, faced harassment and attacks. “They would regularly say ‘Ibne, we will kill you; you can’t work here, ibne, you will die,’” said Bahar.165 Ceren recalled that the first time she was attacked, in April 2006, “I ran away and went to my house. I thought it was normal.”166 The second time, about two weeks after the first attack, “I was in the car with Bahar waiting for a red light to change. The same men stopped in another car next to us, shot in the air and threw rocks at us. This time I went to the Şehit Osman Aycı police station. I gave a statement and gave the car’s license plate number. They told me they would investigate it and sent me home.”167 Ceren has not heard from the police about this case since.

Bahar remembered, “[t]he situation came to a point where we traveled in cars as a group because we were periodically harassed. When attacked we would complain [to the police] and give them the license plate numbers—and then the police didn’t investigate.” “We finally decided to confront the attackers,” Ceren recalls. “They said we had to leave and give them 5 million Turkish liras.”168

In January 2007, Deniz, 41, Mine, 26, and Selay, 34, were victims of a gang in the Esat district in Ankara.

We were hitchhiking in Bağlar [an avenue in Esat where many transgender sex workers work]. A green Ford stopped in front of us—a gray Opel Vectra was following us. Suddenly 9 or 10 men were jumping out of the cars. They had knives and started to attack us. We [Deniz and Mine] ran towards a restaurant nearby; Selay ran the other way. Two men followed me. I felt a stick hit my shoulder. I fell and turned around he was swinging a baton. He hit me once on my head and ran away.  I stood up and searched for Mine and Selay. When I saw Mine, her leg was bleeding. Her leg had been cut with a pair of scissors.169

Senem, one of Pembe Hayat’s lawyers, told Human Rights Watch, “The phone is always ringing, and the phone ringing always means bad news.”170 In early 2007, four men accused of being members of the Dikemen gang were captured and charged with killing several policemen. However, alleged attacks against transgender people were not investigated.  This case, together with another involving men accused of kidnapping, robbing, injuring, and threatening transgender people in the Esat case, is still pending. Pembe Hayat initiated a criminal procedure against several of the men allegedly involved in the April 2006 attacks claiming damage to Bahar’s car. This case was resolved in Bahar’s favor. However, no case was initiated by the authorities regarding the attacks against Ceren. “New attacks continue,” said Senem.171

Reports suggest that few complaints lead to charges or convictions. Deniz filed a complaint in the Esat police station after she was raped in 2004. Police arrested four men and released them two hours later; no judicial process was started against them. “They were all freed before I left the police station. Police told me that they didn’t have adequate proof to accuse them,” Deniz explained.172 She also complained at the Şehit Osman Aycı police station after she was knifed; the officers responded:  “Leave Eryaman.”173 Frightened, she moved to Mersin in July 2006, a city on Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean coast and lived there for a year. One week after Mine was stabbed she went to the Çankaya police station to give her statement. The attackers have not been caught.

Transgender people claim that justice after violence is hard to find, and that victims sometimes became defendants. Giray told Human Rights Watch researchers that in late 2005, two customers attacked her after she picked them up in Hoşdere Street and took them home. “They told me to lie down on the bed. The guy on the bed started touching my breasts; then he held my throat and gagged me. The other held me down and said ‘Let’s cut her.’ They knifed me in my stomach.” Giray’s flat mate Daria heard the struggle and came to her help:  Giray spent four days in the hospital after undergoing surgery for the wounds.

The police caught the suspects and Giray identified one of them three days after the incident. The first court hearing took place in November 2006. Giray said that during the hearing the attacker claimed in his defense that he thought Giray was a woman; he also accused her of trying to attack him. The judge decided to prosecute Giray in that same hearing and accused her of attacking the defendant. They were both released pending trial. In the fourth and final hearing on May 24, 2007, “I was sentenced to one year of prison, charged [with felonious injury]. He got six months,” Giray said with utter frustration.174 The defendant’s sentence was suspended, but Giray’s was not. “We appealed, but we are pessimistic:  I think they didn’t believe our client,”175 said Senem, Giray’s lawyer. She added, “We later learned that they had lost the fingerprints collected and that the evidence had not been properly recorded.”176 The appeal is yet to be decided.

128 Human Rights Watch interview with Hülya, Istanbul, Turkey, October 23, 2003.

129 Communication to Human Rights Watch from KAOS-GL, March 30, 2005.

130 A title indicating the seniority of the person.

131 Human Rights Watch interview with Hülya, Istanbul, Turkey, October 23, 2003.  On November 17, 2004, according to Hülya, she was again subjected to police abuse: one of her customers produced a gun, identified himself as a policeman, and demanded that she perform a sexual act which she was unwilling to do.  He then handed her over to other police, who beat her on the arms and feet.  She was arrested and charged with offenses against public morality; with the assistance of Lambda Istanbul and other human rights organizations, she filed charges against the police for torture, with the chief prosecutor of Kadikoy.  Both cases are still pending.  Communication to Human Rights Watch from KAOS-GL, March 30, 2005.

132 Human Rights Watch interview with Ayla, Istanbul, October 26, 2007.

133 The most recent court hearing in Ayla’s case against the police took place on October 23, 2007. The trial was postponed until June 2008. Ayla was ordered to bring witnesses to the abuse. Meanwhile, according to Ayla’s attorney, “The police just take other policemen as witnesses, whether or not they have any real connection to the case.” Human Rights Watch interview with lawyer İlknur Batıt, Istanbul, November 16, 2007.

134 Human Rights Watch interview with Ayla, Istanbul, October 26, 2007.

135 Human Rights Watch interview with Eren Keskin, Istanbul, October 27, 2007.

136 Kabahatler Kanunu, Law No. 5326 (2005), available at (accessed April 25, 2008).

137 Ibid., Article 1.

138 Polis Vazife ve Selahiyet Yasası, Law No. 2559 (1934) as amended by Polis Vazife ve Salahiyet Kanununda Değişiklik Yapılmasına Dair Kanun, Law No. 5681, June 2007. The amendment introduced new provisions, including article 4, which introduced the stop and identification check. Available at (accessed April 25, 2008).

139 Ibid., article 4: “(A) Police can stop a person or vehicle in order to a) prevent a crime from occurring; b) catch a culprit who has fled the scene and obtain their identification; c) determine whether a person has a standing arrest warrant, d) prevent harm to a person or the public). [Polis Vazife, madde 4: “A. Polis, kişileri ve araçları; a) Bir suç veya kabahatin işlenmesini önlemek; b) Suç işlendikten sonra kaçan faillerin yakalanmasını sağlamak, işlenen suç veya kabahatlerin faillerinin kimliklerini tespit etmek; c) Hakkında yakalama emri ya da zorla getirme kararı verilmiş olan kişileri tespit etmek; d) Kişilerin hayatı, vücut bütünlüğü veya malvarlığı bakımından ya da topluma yönelik mevcut veya muhtemel bir tehlikeyi önlemek, amacıyla durdurabilir].

140 Human Rights Watch interview with Filiz, Istanbul, October 19, 2007.

141 Human Rights Watch interview with Esmeray, Istanbul, October 22, 2007.

142 Human Rights Watch interview with Filiz, Istanbul, October 19, 2007.

143 Letter from the Istanbul District Committee of the Governor’s Office to Lambda Istanbul, responding to its information inquiry,” September 18, 2007 [Istanbul Valiliği, Sayı B054VLK4340300/521/37648, Konu: Başvurunuz].

144 Human Rights Watch interview with Bahar, Ankara, November 5, 2007.

145 Human Rights Watch interview with Fulden, Ankara, October 12, 2003.

146 Human Rights Watch interview with Deniz, Izmir, October 19, 2003.

147 Human Rights Watch interview with Deniz, Ankara, October 12, 2003.

148 Human Rights Watch interview with Giray, Ankara, November 6, 2007.

149 Selay was attacked by members of Balyoz one more time in 2006. This attack was witness by her friend Büse. “Around 11 p.m. members of Balyoz stopped the taxi she [Selay] had taken to go home. They screamed ‘ibne get out of the car’ and started to kick her.” Selay was taken to the police station and the chief of the Police Station asked her to not complain. He threatened her, “you will be back in the street tomorrow and we will get you.” Human Rights Watch, interview with Selay, Ankara, Nov ember 7, 2007; Interview with Büse, Ankara, November 4, 2007.

150 Human Rights Watch interview with the Director of the Human Rights Presidency within the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr. Vahit Bıçak, Ankara, October 2003.

151 Human Rights Watch interview with Büse, Ankara, October 11, 2003. According to several testimonies, forced STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing on detention has diminished or stopped since 2005, but the detentions and other abuses persist.

152 See, article 32: “(1) Any person who disobeys the lawfully orders which are given by the authorized agencies with a purpose of judicial procedures or in order to protect public security, public order or common wealth is fined 100 TRY. The authorized agency imposes the fine.” Article 36: “(1) Any person who makes noise with a purpose of disturbing or breaking the peace of others will be fined 50 TRY. … (3) The police and municipal force are authorized to fine.” Article 37: “(1) Any person who disturbs others to sell goods and services will be fined 50 TRY. (2) The police and municipal force are authorized to fine." [Kabahatler Kanunu, madde 32: “(1) Yetkili makamlar tarafından adli işlemler nedeniyle ya da kamu güvenliği, kamu düzeni veya genel sağlığın korunması amacıyla, hukuka uygun olarak verilen emre aykırı hareket eden kişiye yüz Türk Lirası idari para cezası verilir. Bu cezaya emri veren makam tarafından karar verilir.” Madde 36: “(1) Başkalarının huzur ve sükununu bozacak şekilde gürültüye neden olan kişiye, elli Türk Lirası idari para cezası verilir. ... (3) Bu kabahat dolayısıyla idari para cezasına kolluk veya belediye zabıta görevlileri karar verir.” Madde 37: “Mal veya hizmet satmak için başkalarını rahatsız eden kişi, elli Türk Lirası idari para cezası ile cezalandırılır. (2) Bu kabahat dolayısıyla idari para cezası vermeye kolluk veya belediye zabıta görevlileri yetkilidir.”]

153 Human Rights Watch interview with Belgin, Istanbul, October 20, 2007.

154 Human Rights Watch interview with Ayla, Istanbul, October 26, 2007.

155 Human Rights Watch interview with Çule, Ankara, November 5, 2007.

156 Human Rights Watch interview with Çule, Ankara, November 5, 2007.

157 Human Rights Watch interview with Fulden, Ankara, October 12, 2003.

158 Human Rights Watch interview with Ebru, Istanbul, November 12, 2007. Ebru has a legal battle of her own. Her house was sealed in summer 2007 by the police by orders of the Commission for Combating Venereal Diseases and Prostitution, contending that prostitution was taking place. According to the closure order, the house was shut under article 104 of the 1961 “Provisions about Common Women [sex workers] and Common Houses [brothels] and Combating Venereal Diseases Transmitted by Prostitution.”

159 Human Rights Watch interview with Demet Demir, Istanbul, October 19, 2007.

160 Human Rights Watch interview with Filiz, Istanbul, October 19, 2007.

161 Human Rights Watch interview with Vildan Yirmibeşoğlu, Istanbul, November 13, 2007.

162 Eray Erollu, “Simge was murdered, Funda was seriously injured”, (Simge öldürüldü Funda ağir yarali), Hürriyet newspaper, October 6, 2007.

163 Human Rights Watch interview with Belgin, Istanbul, October 19, 2007.

164 Human Rights Watch interview with Deniz, Ankara, November 7, 2007.

165 Human Rights Watch interview with Bahar, Ankara, November 5, 2007.

166 Human Rights Watch interview with Ceren, Ankara, November 5, 2007.

167 Ibid.

168 Ibid. The new Turkish Lira replaced the Turkish Lira on January 1, 2005. However, many people we spoke to still talk in terms of Turkish Lira with a “millions” denomination. The new lira is worth 1,000,000 of the old lira.

169 Human Rights Watch interview with Deniz, Ankara, November 7, 2007.

170 Human Rights Watch interview with Senem, Ankara, November 7, 2007.

171 Ibid.

172 Human Rights Watch interview with Deniz, Ankara, November 7, 2007.

173 Human Rights Watch interview with Ceren, Ankara, November 5, 2007.

174 Human Rights Watch interview with Giray, Ankara, November 6, 2007.

175 Human Rights Watch interview with Senem, Ankara, November 4, 2007.