Police in Istanbul on Friday broke up a rally calling for an end to violence against women and Turkey’s return to a treaty aimed at protecting them.
The officers detained dozens of protesters during the rally
Protesters had attempted to march along Istanbul’s main pedestrian street, Istiklal, to mark the November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, defying an order by authorities banning the rally for reasons of security and public order.
Police blocked protesters from entering the streets leading to Istiklal, surrounded groups of protesters and then apprehended them.
An Associated Press reporter saw three buses full of detained protesters being taken to a nearby police station.
Istiklal was the site of a bomb attack that killed six people on November 13, and there was a heavy police presence there.
Turkish authorities blamed the attack on Kurdish groups, but those groups denied involvement.
On Friday, Istanbul’s governor’s office announced that it was banning the installation of live music, exhibitions and food stalls on Istiklal.
Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew Turkey from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, prompting condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western countries.
The historic convention was signed in Istanbul in 2011.
The decision to leave the convention came after some Erdogan party officials argued it was incompatible with Turkey’s conservative values by encouraging divorce and undermining traditional family unity.
Earlier this year, parliament passed a bill increasing prison sentences for crimes where the victim is a woman and making stalking a crime punishable by imprisonment.
Speaking at an event marking international day, Erdogan pledged to “constantly raise the bar” in preventing violence against women.
“We cannot consent for even one woman to be abused,” he said.
Yet human rights groups say the measures in place fail to protect women or hold perpetrators to account adequately.
At least 349 women have been killed so far this year in Turkey, according to the advocacy group. We Will Stop Femicide.
Authorities have banned similar gatherings recently, leading to scuffles between police and protesters.