A transgender activist was taken into custody and nearly sent to a cell with 20 men at a Turkish airport.
Kıvılcım Arat was arrested at the international terminal at Istanbul Atatürk Airport tonight (17 March).
She was on her way to a conference on women’s rights in Germany; it is thought she was arrested during passport checks.
According to KaosGL, a Turkish LGBTI organization, the full reason for Arat’s arrest is unknown.
Authorities reportedly said it was because she failed to testify in an investigation.
But lawyer Aylin Kırıkçı said Arat didn’t know the contents of a file outlining the reason for her detention.
‘It is necessary to testify from an earlier investigation, so it is clear that there is a catch-up decision,’ Kırıkçı told KaosGL.
‘It is also unclear from which inquiry she should testify.’
Laywers tried reaching the prosecutor, partly because Arat reportedly has health issues, but were unsuccessful.
Kırıkçı also said authorities at Atatürk Airport wanted to detain Arat in a cell with 20 men.
‘Despite the fact that my client is a trans woman, they want to put her in a room with 20 men,’ Kırıkçı said.
After Arat objected and had a discussion with authorities, it seems she is now detained separately.
Through her lawyer the activist sent a message from where she is detained.
‘In our areas of solidarity, we are stubborn about those who call for notice,’ she said.
‘We will continue to struggle, to be solid, to stand shoulder to shoulder.’
Zelal Demir, speaking on behalf of Istanbuld LGBTI Solidarity Association said they were standing in support with their friend.
‘As far as we know, there is no reason for detainment. We have no information about Kıvılcım’s condition and where the police keep her,’ Demir said.
‘Our friend and comrade Kıvılcım Arat is a human rights defender and recently there is a massive detainment wave against human rights defender[s].
‘She is not alone and we want from the authorities to release her.’
Gay Star News has contacted KaosGL and Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association for comment.