Turkish minister says fewer women killed after treaty exit, slams critics

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said opposition politicians were lying about the negative impact of the country’s withdrawal from a treaty to protect women last month, saying fewer had been killed since.

There have been 25 murders of women between March 19 and April 22 compared with 34 between Feb. 13 and March 19, Soylu said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdrew Turkey from the Istanbul Convention via a presidential decree on March 20, sparking strong criticism from the United States and the European Union and widespread condemnation from human rights groups.

Soylu labelled Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy head Gülizar Biçer Karaca as a liar after she claimed that police stations were now rejecting complaints from women alleging sexual or physical abuse, asking them to bring evidence and apply to the courts. She is responsible for human rights policy at the CHP.

He also slammed senior CHP deputy chief Özgür Özel for saying that murders of women were continuing and the negative impact of Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention was there for all to see.

“What they are saying is open lies,” Soylu said, attaching videos of Karaca and Özel’s statements to his tweet. “Who are these liars? What did they say? For those who are interested…” Soylu has 5.6 million followers on Twitter.

Turkey was the first nation to sign up to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in 2011. The Istanbul Convention, named after the city where it was signed, seeks to end legal impunity for perpetrators of the crimes.

The CHP has labelled the move as an effort to relegate women to second class citizens and as a failure to protect the right to life.

Three hundred femicides were recorded in Turkey last year, according to the organisation We Will Stop Femicides. Another 171 women were found dead in suspicious circumstances, it said.

Earlier this year, Soylu led a campaign on Twitter against LGBT+ activists who took part in demonstrations at an Istanbul university, labelling them as “deviants”. His comments prompted Twitter to place a rare public health warning on two of his tweets for violating its rules about hateful content.

The government says the convention was hijacked by the LGBT+ community and normalises homosexuality.

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