Since October 7, 2023, we have been witnessing a war that continues the decades-long ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestinian territories with feelings of fear and horror. We are watching because we can't do anything else. We are watching because we know that condemning the occupation and then continuing with our lives as if nothing happened does not fulfill our duty. The occupying and colonial Israeli regime is constantly expanding its borders with the ethnic cleansing it has been carrying out in the occupied Palestinian territories for decades and the colonial settlements that are still being established today, forcing Palestinians to live a condemned life from birth to death in refugee camps within Palestine and in neighboring countries. The concepts of occupation, genocide, and colonialism may remind us more of history books, but in fact, occupation, genocide, and colonialism are happening right before our eyes.
While the occupying Israeli regime commits the crime of genocide in the occupied Palestinian territories, it also uses disinformation methods to obscure the truth and legitimize the genocide. The occupying regime, which tries to portray the Palestinian people as beasts and barbarians, and portrays itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, a staunch defender of human rights, LGBTI+ friendly, and the country with the most environmentally friendly and vegan-friendly army in the world, accesses the personal information of Palestinian LGBTI+’s in Gaza, the West Bank, and all occupied Palestinian territories through its intelligence agency and then imposes spying on Palestinian LGBTI+’s by threatening them with espionage to disclose their gender identity and sexual orientation to their families. The same regime is cutting down trees to imprison Palestinians behind walls in open-air prisons, irreversibly destroying the region's ecosystem, taking the lives of untold number of animals during the war, subjecting people to severe torture, killing, and displacement.
In no region of the world where LGBTI+’s live relatively comfortably is this situation one-dimensional, and there is no rosy picture for LGBTI+ people with other minority identities. We remind that LGBTI+ rights in regions where they have been obtained were not granted by states but were achieved through struggles. Even if the paradise itself were promised to LGBTI+’s, we reject the idea that freedom could be achieved by wiping a city off the map and destroying a people. Contrary to the myth that the Palestinian people are inherently anti-LGBTI+, we remind that LGBTI+phobia is widespread worldwide and can only be overcome through the struggle of LGBTI+’s. We do not buy the lie that the occupying Israeli regime is taking away the country of Palestinian LGBTI+’s which they could fight for their rights within and by doing so, they are liberating them from the radical Islamists.
Meanwhile, we see the calls of our comrades within the LGBTI+ community who argues that LGBTI+ organizations have responded to the genocide with less severity than expected, and we take the time to understand their criticisms. On the one hand, as a civil society organization fighting for LGBTI+ rights, we see producing policies about human rights violations in the world and in Turkey as one of our basic responsibilities. On the other hand, we constantly discuss the position of writing a statement in reaction to an ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing that has been going on for decades, including this statement, in terms of the functionality of press releases in general. This also brings with it both our internal debates in our conscience and the discussions we have been conducting within the ÜniKuir as a civil society organization. Because the timing of a press release and the targeted impact area of that speech is political as well as the act of speaking out itself. Not producing statements just to get rid of the pressure on us and just to feel as if we fulfilled our responsibility is our political position, which we have not refrained from the beginning and will not change after today.
In this sense, we discuss when and with what aims we write press releases, and for two years now, this has been a topic on our agenda, and we continuously discuss the authenticity and functionality of the discourse and policies we produce, as well as the concept of the press release itself. In addition to finding this method normal, we also take pride in inheriting this method of reevaluating our actions from the movement. Because, as our comrades who continue organized struggles within the LGBTI+ movement will also know, one of the most basic dynamics of the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey is that we have come to today by constantly discussing the authenticity and functionality of the discourse and policies we produce. As ÜniKuir, we want to underline that we develop our policies within the framework of the principles and questions we have listed, without any pressure from outsider individuals, institutions, or entities, except taking into account the risks of violations towards the safety and constitutional rights of association employees, the Board of Directors, members, and volunteers.
Apart from trying to understand the criticisms of our comrades within the LGBTI+ movement, there are also LGBTI+phobic, racist, and antisemitic discourses that we will never listen to. We witness that those who watch the war like a video game accuse LGBTI+’s from Turkey of being either Hamas supporters or accomplices of Israel's war crimes. On one hand, we are surrounded by A Haber, which mistakes the Druze flag for the rainbow flag and spreads hatred against LGBTI+’s, and on the other hand, we are surrounded by those who audaciously threaten LGBTI+’s by saying "What would Hamas do to you." We have no tolerance for the audacity of giving policy lessons by pointing to radical Islam to LGBTI+ activists whose lives have been spent fighting against religion-based oppression. Similarly, political entities that try to twist the suffering of the Palestinian people to fit their antisemitic and LGBTI+phobic agendas should know that our struggle, which does not refrain from calling the crimes committed by the occupying Israeli regime genocide, will never, under any circumstances, salute the racist and antisemitic delusions you are trying to gather supporters for.
With this statement, as the ÜniKuir Association, we call on the LGBTI+ public in Turkey and around the world to approach the propaganda of the occupying Israeli regime with suspicion regarding the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing that began more than decades before October 7, 2023, and will possibly continue even after it becomes invisible on social media. We urge you to be alert regarding the analyses conducted as if there is a war between equals, and to be cautious against the disinformation of the occupying Israeli regime that instrumentalizes our struggle and legitimate fears.
We salute the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people against occupation and genocide.
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
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