Great Women's Meeting in Istanbul: Our struggle will continue to grow

At a "Great Women's Meeting" on March 8, thousands of women in Istanbul expressed their determination to defend women's rights they have fought for and to strengthen their resistance against patriarchy and the palace regime.

"Our rebellion, our anger and our resistance will continue to grow. We will continue to fill the streets and squares to fight for our right to self-determination and freedom" - this was roughly the central message of thousands of women and LGBTI+ people this Saturday in Istanbul at a rally to mark International Women's Struggle Day March 8.

The "Great Women's Gathering" took place at the harbor forecourt in the district of Kadıköy, which had been transformed into a colorful sea of flags by those involved. Among the flags and banners of the various women's groups and parties, posters of revolutionaries such as Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg were also held up. Other women had brought pictures of imprisoned HDP politicians.

Kurdish peace mothers at the front

Activists from the "Peace Mothers" initiative gathered at the very front. They repeatedly shouted particularly loudly and militantly the central maxim of the Kurdish women's movement, namely "Jin, Jiyan, Azadî" (Woman, Life, Freedom). As expected, the police disrupted the gathering right at the beginning and collected umbrellas in rainbow colors with reference to a supposed ban. A banner demanding "Freedom for Şilan Delipalta," a student currently in pre-trial detention in connection with the protests at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University, was also confiscated.

We are building on what women have already won for us

The highlight of the meeting was a statement of the "March 8 Platform ", which was read out in Kurdish, Turkish and Arabic. In the introduction it said: "The international women's struggle day stands in the long tradition in the resistance against the patriarchy and the capitalist system. All over the world, from Latin America to Europe and Asia to the Middle East, we women must fight for our right to self-determination, freedom and integrity. We continue the struggles of the women before us, building on what they have already won for us. We see ourselves as part of a worldwide movement and stand in solidarity with all struggling women and their movements."

Women fight on all fronts for the rights of all the oppressed

The statement continued: “It is precisely the Corona pandemic and the related rise in violence against women that once again brought home the need to increase resistance for fought-for women's rights and against patriarchy, "male-state violence" and the "palace regime”. If the state and patriarchy take away our freedom to live our lives in a self-determined way, then we must fight for that freedom. On all fronts, whether in the student protests against the appointment of a trustee as rector, the strikes of Migros workers, the resistance for the preservation of the Istanbul Convention, women fought at the very front for all people and social groups. Whether for the rights of women, LGBTI people, political prisoners, those dismissed during the pandemic or all other oppressed people; women will continue to lead the struggle for a self-determined, equal and free life, free from violence, racism and discrimination."

LGBTI activist taken into custody

Violent arrests by police occurred at the end of the rally. Trans woman Yıldız İdil Şen was arrested from a cab after she loudly criticized the repression against LGBTI people at the rally. Police also used force and made arrests against people present who had observed the incident and tried to prevent Şen's arrest. Some of the women who were taken away were dragged by their hair. It is still unclear how many people in total were taken into custody.