Turkey’s Women’s Day celebrations begin with protests and ‘no’ campaigns

Istanbul Women's Day celebrations, 5 March 2017 (Photo credit: Twitter/@FilizKer)

Celebrations of International Women’s Day (8 March) began in Turkey amid detentions and protests against the government.

Celebrations were initially banned by governorates on the grounds of ‘security concerns’ in Turkey’s western cities Izmir and Istanbul as well as the southeastern Diyarbakir.

Although authorities later lifted the ban, 23 women were detained in southeastern city Sanliurfa on Sunday as they prepared for the celebration.

Women’s Day this year across Turkey has taken on an extra meaning as it comes a month before Turkey’s constitutional referendum. The opposition’s ‘no’ campaigns has been incorporated into celebrations and has attracted widespread media attention.

In photos by Turkish news outlet, Sendika.org, women are seen carrying placards with photos of imprisoned female People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers printed on them.

While in other photos, banners in support of secularism and women’s rights – two things which are deemed to be under attack if the constitutional reform is voted in – are also seen.

Speaking at the Istanbul celebration in Bakirkoy district, HDP deputy Filiz Kerestecioglu said, “They [government] are afraid of women’s power. We gained our rights by struggling. We will not rescind any of these rights. For this reason we are going to say ‘No’ in all the languages of these lands on 16 April.”

Academic Betul Celep, dismissed from her position recently with a government decree law said she had learned how to struggle from working women. “As long as women exist humanity is going resist. We are not going to remain silent, nor bow down, we are going to win.”

Celebrations are expected to continue in different cities until 8 March.