From Melike and Özgür for Amnesty International <[email protected]>
Subject On trial for celebrating LGBTI+ Pride
Date November 12, 2020 7:47 PM
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Celebrating Pride is not a crime. Act in solidarity with students in Turkey. | View in browser [[link removed]] .

[[link removed]]"Pride is a struggle against violence, against hate crimes, all over the world.
Pride is a moment where you can express the things you experience in your life;
you can be yourself." — Özgür Gür

Dear John,

We are Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür, two biology students at METU, the Middle
East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. Over the past few years, we have
been organizing numerous marches, meetings and events to grow LGBTI+ awareness
and solidarity on campus and beyond.

But in 2019, the university administration told us that we could not go ahead
with our Pride march on campus in May — an event that had taken place every year
for nearly a decade.

On the day, we planned to demonstrate peacefully and celebrate pride with our
rainbow flags and chants, but before we could even gather on the campus lawn,
the university administration called the police, who violently attacked us with
pepper spray and plastic bullets, arresting 22 students, including the two of
us, as well as one of our professors.

Now we’re on trial and face up to three years in prison if the court find us
guilty. Our next hearing is coming up soon—December 12, 2020.

John, please remind Turkey’s Minister of Justice that
peacefully celebrating Pride is not a crime.
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This year, our story is part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign, in which
people like you sign thousands of petitions, write numerous solidarity messages
and stand together to fight for justice around the world.

We applaud you for your awareness, and willingness to work for the rights of
people far away, whom you may never meet. This selflessness, for us, is the core
of activism and it's our strongest weapon against those that want to silence us.

Please get involved and take action for Write for Rights now.
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Together our actions have power. As long as the fighting spirit lives in each
and every one of us, there is hope. Thank you all for everything you do, not
just for us, but for human rights around the world.

With love and solidarity,

Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür , on behalf of Amnesty International

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VIDEO: Watch now and support of the METU Pride defenders >>
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