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Turkish transgender woman says she was attacked for taking police to court

Despite warnings, transphobic violent crime in Turkey is showing no sign of abating
Michelle Demishevich, another victim of violent transphobic crime in Turkey

A transgender woman who was attacked in Istanbul earlier this week has told Gay Star News that she thinks the incident was designed to scare her off an upcoming court trial with the police.

On the 7 May last year Michelle Demishevich was cornered by five men with a gun on the street when she was on her way to a friend's birthday party. She says one of the men put the gun in her mouth and shouted violent transphobic abuse at her, threatening to kill her.

Demishevich says that two of the men who attacked her last May were undercover police. She is pressing charges with the police and the trial is coming up. She thinks that she was attacked earlier this week by seven men because of her attempts to seek justice against the five men who attacked her last year.

Demishevich says that since she was attacked last year she's fallen into a depression. 'I lost my job, I lost my self-confidence,' she told Gay Star News. 'I've been out of work for one year. I lost my partner because every single day I was crying and finally he left me.'

Despite warnings from Human Rights Watch, who published the report Turkey: Stop Violence Against Transgender People in February 2010, the bloodshed against transgenders in Turkey is showing no sign of abating. The body transgender woman was found shot in the head this March in Izmir, taking the total of transgender women murdered this year in Turkey to four. Last year, 28 transgender women in Turkey were victims of violent hate crime.

In May 2010 uniformed police officers attacked five transgender activists on the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). Michael Cashman, MEP and co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT rights said at the time: 'How can Turkey claim to be a true democracy if police forces disregard the rule of law, and attack those it must protect? We call on Turkish authorities to reprimand these police officers, and clearly affirm that LGBT people, and in particular transgender people, must be protected from violence.'

Demishevich however has given up hope of protection from Turkey. 'If I die one day please tell the public I believe in equality and love for all,' she told Gay Star News. 'The Turkish media don't care about me now, but if I die I will make the news: "transgender Michelle has been murdered".'

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