Turkey cancels ban on Women's Day celebrations in Kurdish city

The Ankara-appointed governor in Diyarbakir had, the previous day, denied permission for women's organizations to mark the occasion.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - On Thursday, Turkish authorities in the Kurdish province of Diyarbakir revoked a ban, made the day before, on holding celebrations for International Women’s Day this month.

Diyarbakir Women's Platform, the local Chamber of Medics, Education and Science Workers’ Union, and the Confederation of Public Employees’ Trade Unions (KESK) had requested permission from the Ankara-appointed governor to hold activities in public spaces between March 1 to March 10. International Women's Day is observed on March 8.

In response to the request, the governor’s office denied them permission, saying all public meetings, rallies, walks, sit-ins, civic activities, statements to the press, and protests were prohibited.

As an explanation for the decision, it cited the ongoing national state of emergency declared by the Turkish government after a failed military coup in 2016. Since then, Ankara has extended the state of emergency several times.

The governor's office withdrew the ban following the filing of an objection by a spokesperson for the Women’s Platform, Gulsen Ozbek, Kurdistan 24's Diyarbakir bureau reported.

Critics and opposition parties argue that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration uses state of emergency laws to curtail freedoms and clamp down on civil society.

Unlike many countries, International Women’s Day is not a public holiday in Turkey. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) have proposed bills to make it one, but none were passed.

Multiple campaigns and resolutions introduced by opposition parties in the Turkish Parliament, dominated by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), have failed in recent years.

Rallies held in violation of similar bans across Turkey have often turned violent, with police arresting scores and using rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

International Women's Day has been observed since the early twentieth century and was officially adopted by the United Nations in 1975.

Editing by John J. Catherine