Protests break out after Turkey decides to shut down one of the country’s most respected women’s rights groups

“It is not possible to stop our fight. We are not going to allow the closure of our association,” We Will Stop Femicide general secretary Fidan Ataselim told AFP.

An Istanbul prosecutor filed a complaint on Wednesday seeking to have the association closed for “activity contrary to law and morality”.

We Will Stop Femicide publicizes the murder and abuse of women in this predominantly Muslim but officially secular state.

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According to Ataselim, the lawsuit accuses the group of carrying out activities that violate Turkey’s “laws and morals”.

The association strongly criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision last year to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention, which requires countries to put in place laws to prevent and prosecute violence against women.

We Will Stop Femicide says 280 women were killed in Turkey last year, including many murders committed by family members.

Another 217 women died in suspicious circumstances, including those officially registered as suicidal, according to the group.

Ataselim said the lawsuit was filed on the basis of a complaint registered by a group of Turks through a website set up by the presidency to respond to citizens’ requests.

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The lawsuit accuses the group of “destroying the family under the guise of defending women’s rights”, Ataselim said.

The language is similar to that used by Mr Erdogan in his decision to withdraw from the Istanbul convention, which Turkey signed in 2011.

Social conservatives in Turkey say the convention promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values.

“Do not pursue women, but murderers! Hundreds of protesters gathered in Istanbul shouted.

Women hold banners and shout slogans as they protest against the closure case filed against the association

Women hold banners and shout slogans as they protest against the shutdown case filed against the ‘We Will Stop Femicide Platform’ in Ankara, Turkey. Source: Getty / ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

Representatives of opposition parties as well as relatives of victims of domestic violence took part in the demonstration.

“These women are fighters…I wanted to be there to support them,” said Nihat Palandoken, the father of a young girl killed in 2017.

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