December, 18th, 1996
The harassment and the pressure against the transvestite (TS) and transexual (TV) community has always been present in Turkey, but for the last 12 months the intensity and the frequency of it has been increasing.
A 65-year old woman has moved to the Ulker Street a year ago, called Ms. Güngör (Guengoer), has been provoking all actions against TV/TS community. She has big support from the police and extremist right wing party members or organizations; radical Islamists and Nationalists.
For the couple of first months she was very friendly to and with the girls who have been living in the area for more than 20 years. She has bought some flats for very cheap prices and rented them to the girls with the normal rates. After a while she started to demand enormous amounts like increasing the rents from 20 million to 100 million TL. The girls refused to pay these rates as it is stated in the contract law that the owners are only permitted to increase the rent 60% maximum. This is the point where everything started to go down for the girls.
She has initiated a campaign of "cleaning operation". She with her neighbours placed a desk to the street with patrols in charge to control the area day and night. She covered her head to gain support from extremist Islamists and from their organizations. She was not satisfied with the results. A few months ago she started a campaign of labelling called "Hang a Turkish Flag if you are not homosexual". She aimed to gain support from the extremist Nationalists and she did. The organizations called "Ülkü (Uelkue) Ocaklari", the youth branches of extremist right wing party MHP, took part on her side. They joined the harassment process with the premise that the homosexuals are not excepted as Turkish. They don't belong to the race since they represent a lower form of human beings. This was told to a university student who was making a market research for an assignment.
One of the biggest support came from Mr. Süleyman (Sueleyman) Ulusoy who was chief of the Beyoglu Police Department until 1991. He came back to duty just before UN Human Settling Conference, Habitat II. Not only he fights against homosexuals but against street children, street peddlers and gypsies as well.
Before the above mentioned conference, the police warned the TV/TS community to leave the conference area. They were warned that if they remained to stay in their houses they would be in danger. To pretend to keep the area clean, a massive cleaning operation was started before the conference. Lots of stray dogs and cats, street children and peddlers were forced to move on to the different areas.
Then the cleaning operation started to get serious. A house, which belongs to one of the transsexuals who lives in the street, was set on fire, allegedly, by the police. She applied to the Attorney Generalship for a legal action but she couldn't get any response for two months. She has started a petition but Mr. Ulusoy didn't give any official statement. The Damage Commission affirmed the damage as 300 million TL. Though it was 2 months ago there is no result at the moment. Meanwhile, Ms. Demet Demir and other TV/TS started several petitions but couldn't get any response neither. Moreover, another four houses has been set on fire since, in another district of Beyoglu, but nobody applied for any legal action since they were scared and they knew through the previous example that their attempts would have been futile even if they had tried. Ilhami Kaya is another TV who lives in the street who has a similar experience in which the windows of her house smashed down with stones thrown. Ms. Demet Demir's front door has been broken for 3 times and the telephone cables were cut to prevent her from informing the solicitors and/or the press.
At this point I feel the urge to state that homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey. There is no law in force in the constitution against homosexual acts. On the other hand, torture is illegal. The current situation is ironically ridiculous when these points are highlighted. Though this is the case Ms. Demet Demir got a criminal record which states illegal demonstration. She stayed in the jail for 8 months. After 10 years all criminal records are normally deleted. Her record still exists after 14 years to everybody's surprise.
The police are breaking the doors with hammers and axes, forcing their way in to the houses to cause the most damage that they can. At times if they find occupancy in the house they take the person to the station to keep them under detention. A person can be kept under detention only for 48 hours the most. The police's practical solution for this is to transfer the person to another station so that they can keep somebody for more than a week if they want to do so. The police raid the houses and the clubs to arrest. You show your ID but it is not sufficient enough. There are lots of means to an arrest in Turkey and the police forces are well prepared to teach you these means.
TV/TS community are continously accused of prostitution and raping young boys. They are seen as potential criminals. In the year 1994 and 1995, just before the World AIDS Day the clubs were raided to bash the TV/TSs since they are believed to be the cause for AIDS. This is a very vicious cycle. Since they are seen as potential danger, criminal and always as immoral they are forced out of the society. They don't have any means to live properly. They end up on the streets as prostitutes as this is the only thing they are permitted. If they can do this it means that there is demand as well. Then everybody becomes ethical activists when it is time to blame them, but they never talk about whom they slept with the night before.
The current situation is that the TV/TS community in this area is reduced to 7 from 70. They are left with only one solution as a consequence: to move. The clean water supplier on the street was closed down with the reason that it didn't have any license. You start to ask how it was permitted in the first place then. The newsagent was closed down with threats as well. The hair-dresser was closed down because it was, allegedly, used as a whorehouse. All these closing downs were done by the local council of Beyoglu. Any clever person can not deny the question: "Were these places closed down because they were serving to the TV/TS community living in the area?".
Everything that is going on around the street has to be done in secret as a result. For example, during Habitat Conference a foreign TV channel was having an interview with Ms. Demet Demir in her house. It is at this point the police broke into her house. The reporter hid the tapes and cameras otherwise they would have been taken away. Police was so determined to take them to the station but couldn't have done it because Mr. Tugrul Erbaydar from AIDS Prevention Society told this group of policemen that they were having a meeting about AIDS.
In the beginning of December one of the transexuals named Ece was beaten up by the police because she couldn't manage to be secret enough. Although she has a house in the street she can not live there. She comes in secret to feed her dog. The last time her neighbour heard her coming and phoned the police. She was caught in her apartment. She was beaten up first in the street and then in the police station. She was beaten up so badly that her legs was bruised even after a week.
Mr. Süleyman Ulusoy has a nickname which is "Hose Süleyman". He likes to beat, especially to the head, with plastic hose pipes and this is where his nickname comes from. There are several files in the Human Rights Association regarding these tortures. Cutting the hair, pumping pressurized cold water, beating bullocks are the most common of these tortures in the police stations.
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