ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Wednesday rejected a prosecutor’s attempts to shut down a leading anti-femicide campaign group on charges of violating administrative laws and “morality.”
The rare court victory for a Turkish rights group came as Ankara vows to mend ties with Western allies after May elections in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended his dominant rule into a third decade.
“The court rejected the (petition) to shut down our platform,” the We Will Stop Femicide Platform representative Nursen Inal said.
“We are very happy, but (the trial) should not have happened in the first place.”
Riot police cordoned off Istanbul’s main courthouse and detained two supporters of the campaign group ahead of the closely watched verdict.
Prosecutors had asked the court to close the group for “acting against the law and morality” in hearings that had stretched out for more than a year.
The group, which says it was never presented with an explanation as to which laws it was supposed to have violated, had denounced the charges as politically motivated.
The We Will Stop Femicide Platform has been campaigning against the murder and abuse of women in the mostly Muslim but officially secular nation since 2010.
It became a lightning rod for criticism from Islamic conservatives after speaking out against Erdogan’s 2021 decision to pull Turkiye out of a European convention aimed at combating violence against women.
More conservative members of Erdogan’s ruling party also accused the group of damaging traditional family values by speaking out in defense of LGBTQ rights.
Erdogan himself branded the LGBTQ community “perverse” and repeatedly denounced their supporters during his May re-election campaign.
The We Will Stop Femicide Platform says 403 women were murdered in Turkiye last year and 423 in 2021.
The move to prosecute the group alarmed rights activists, who have long accused Erdogan of backsliding on democratic norms.
Turkiye this year reaffirmed its commitment to resume long-stalled negotiation to join the European Union.
But the bloc’s enlargement commissioner said on a visit to Ankara this month that Brussels needed to see tangible progress on Turkiye’s commitment to “democracy and the rule of law.”