The case, which started with the rape of young woman İpek Er by Specialized Sergeant Musa Orhan turned into a nationwide debate after the young woman ended her life. The Women’s Movement, organized on Twitter, launched a campaign demanding the arrest of Orhan who is known to have said previously “no one can touch me”. Orhan was arrested and released from prison amidst nationwide reactions.
The rape of İpek Er by Specialized Sergeant Musa Orhan in the east of the country where the majority of the population consists of Kurdish citizens, suddenly came to the agenda of the country in the beginning of July when the first reports of İpek Er attempting her life after days of sexual abuse and abduction were published in the media. Shortly after the rape case was brought to the courts, İpek Er attempted to take her own life, struggled in ICU for 33 days and eventually lost her life on August 18. The death of the young woman ignited the women’s movement and a big campaign emerged against Musa Orhan on Twitter. Orhan submitted himself to the police and he was arrested; however he was later released.
İPEK ER’S TESTIMONY
“He forced himself and wanted to have intercourse many times by deceiving me with the promise of marrying me, and giving alcohol and drugs. I am a plaintiff and complainant about Musa Orhan, who raped me by force, deceived me with the promise of marriage, abused me. I came to the brink of suicide. I can not look at my family’s face.”
For this reason İlyas Tarım, the lawyer of the Er family, claims that Musa Orhan should be prosecuted not only for qualified sexual abuse but also for his role in suicide of the young woman. The suspect’s case will be heard on October 16.
• 24 June: İpek Er’s family filed a missing persons application.
• 3 July: Er was found at a Teachers’ House in Siirt’s Kurtalan.
• 7 July: The family filed a criminal complaint to Siirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on charges of “rape, forced abduction and threats” about Specialized Sergeant Musa Orhan. In the indictment, Ipek Er says that Musa Orhan had sexual relations with her without her consent.
• An investigation was initiated on July 10, 2020 with the request of “dismissal from Public Service” against Musa Orhan.
• 16 July: Ipek Er attempted suicide. Siirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a decision to detain Musa Orhan.
• 17 July: Musa Orhan was referred to the Siirt Penal Court of Peace with the request for arrest. Orhan, was questioned by the judge. After that he was released on the condition of judicial control, citing that he would not escape. Both the Siirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Siirt Bar Association appealed the decision, but the objections were rejected by the Siirt Penal Court of Peace.
• On 27 July, the Siirt 1st High Penal Court indicted Musa Orhan for sexual assault and opened a criminal case against him.
• August 18: Ipek Er lost her life in the hospital where she was being treated. Shortly afterwards, a campaign was launched on Twitter with the hashtag #MusaOrhanTutuklansın (Arrest Musa Orhan)
• August 19: Orhan was arrested as a result of the reactions about İpek Er’s death.
• Ipek Er’s funeral took place in Batman at 3:00 a.m. under intense security measures. The police did not allow members of parliament and citizens in the cemetery who wanted to attend the funeral.
• 20 August: Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu spoke to Hürriyet Newspaper columnist Ahmet Hakan. He stated that the expulsion process of Musa Orhan has begun. Also the Minister of Interior alleged that the HDP and the PKK played a role in bringing the Musa Orhan case to the agenda.
• Women who are members of the Liberation of Women were detained in Taksim Square in Istanbul as they wanted to protest İpek Er’s death. The women were later released.
• HDP to Soylu: “We stand against violence, harassment and rape without any doubt. He is the last person to question us. We don’t have to answer to the person who’s trying to cover this up today.”
• August 25: Upon the objection of Orhan’s lawyer Mehmet Erkan Akkuş, Musa Orhan was released from prison. The lawyer claimed that his client had no suspicion of running away. The court’s decision to release is shaped by the thought that İpek Er had voluntarily entered sexual intercourse with Musa Orhan.
• 26 August: More than 156.000 posts were published on social media with the hashtag #MusaOrhanTutuklansın (Arrest Musa Orhan). Hashtag sat in the first row of Turkey’s Twitter agenda. The Ministry of Interior made a statement as a result of public reactions. In the statement, Ministry emphasized that the process was closely monitored. Also the broadcasting policy of the critical TELE 1 channel was criticized and was stressed that the reactions against the Ministry were unfounded.
• August 27: In Istanbul’s Besiktas Square, University Women’s Assemblies protested the release of Musa Orhan. In the protest “we want justice for Ipek Er” and “arrest Musa Orhan” banners were opened
• Women Stronger Together Platform, met in front of the ÖSYM (Student Selection and Placement Center) building in İzmir’s Alsancak. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Muş Deputy Gulistan Kılıç-Koçyiğit also attended the manifestation.
• HDP’s group deputy chair Hakkı Saruhan Oluç, said “Musa Orhan is protected by the judiciary, we saw once again that the Kurdish people are facing a systematic attack, not a single isolated case.”
Reactions still continue to grow as opposition politicians repeatedly ask why Musa Orhan was released from prison. One of the opposition members of parliament from the Workers Party TİP, actor Barış Atay criticized the Minister of Interior for release of Musa Orhan. Following this criticism, TİP deputy Atay became the target of the Minister of Interior Soylu. Barış Atay was violently assaulted after getting targeted.
İPEK IS NOT THE FIRST CASE IN TURKEY
Turkey, is a country where violence against women increased in an exponential level in recent years… While violence is on the rise, debate continues on withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, which provides legal protection for women and girls. In this context, the effect of feminist activism, which has become visible on social media, has reached an indisputable point on decision-making process of state apparatuses.
For example Şule Çet was sexually assaulted and killed on May 28, 2018. Her killers claimed that Çet committed suicide. During the trial process, forensic medicine and the court made sexist decisions and determinations about the life of Şule Çet. The women then carried the case to the Twitter agenda with the hashtag #ŞuleÇetİçinAdalet (Justice for Şule Çet) and it was effective in the conclusion of the case in favor of Çet.
Another example is the video footage of Emine Bulut, who was killed by her ex-husband, on August 23, 2019, and the words “I do not want to die” at the time of her murder, were the words of the rebellion against femicide on social media. Currently, women are conducting a very effective campaign with the hasgtag #İstanbulSözleşmesiYaşatır (İstanbul Convention keeps alive) to avoid leaving the İstanbul Convention. So much so that the campaign gained international recognition with the hashtag #womensupportingwomen.