Metro Weekly

Turkish LGBTQ activist released from jail, but will continue to be prosecuted

The circumstances surrounding Ali Erol's arrest and the charges against him remain shrouded in mystery

Ali Erol – Photo: Kaos GL.

Ali Erol, the co-founder of the Turkish LGBTQ organization Kaos GL, was released from jail after being arrested at his home by government authorities last week.

While Erol has been released, he still faces prosecution on charges that have yet to be made public. The exact reasons surrounding his arrest have been kept confidential, but Kaos GL previously reported that police had a warrant referencing some of Erol’s social media posts.

“Secrecy is a very common strategy in Turkey,” Yildiz Tar, the media and communications coordinator for Kaos GL, said in a statement. “First they detain, ask questions about something, then they prepare the charges and we can only learn it in trial or just before the trial.”

While he’s out on release, Erol will be required to appear before the police periodically, and has been banned from leaving the country.

In recent years, the LGBTQ community in Turkey has come under fire from local and national authorities, particularly amid President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on dissent following a failed coup in 2016.

In November 2017, the governor of Ankara, where Erol lives with his partner, banned all LGBTQ-related events in the capital city, arguing that such events could result in a violent backlash from conservative elements within the city and threaten public safety.

“Each year, thousands of human rights defenders are [being] silenced through fabricated or ridiculous reasons that turn into lengthy, costly and mostly unjust judicial processes,” Kaos GL said in a statement. “Trying to suppress the courage of human rights defenders is a common tactic by those violating rights.”

OutRight Action International, which has been outspoken about Erol’s arrest, issued its own statement on the situation.

“The ambiguity of the case and seemingly arbitrary reasons for Ali Erol’s arrest speaks to the deteriorating situation faced by LGBTIQ, and all, human rights defenders in Turkey,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International. “The blanket ban on LGBTIQ events already trampled on the rights to assembly, now even the rights to express oneself freely is being punished. The Turkish government needs to stop violating the human rights of its citizens immediately.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com