Three transgender activists in Turkey have been sentenced to jail in what human rights leaders call “a pattern of systematic harassment of transgender individuals”.

On 26 October, Ankara’s 15th Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced Naz Güdümen, Buse Kýlýçkaya, and Selay Tunç – from the organisation Pembe Hayat – to jail terms ranging from five to eighteen months.

They were convicted of offenses such as “resisting the police” and “insulting the police”.

While the jail sentences for Ms. Tunc and Ms. Güdümen were suspended, the court’s ruling in the case of Ms. Kýlýçkaya is to be enforced if it is upheld by the Court of Appeals.

The charges stem from events that took place on June 19, 2010 when police pulled over and arrested the three activists while they drove through the Seyranbaglari Mah neighbourhood in Ankara.

Human rights groups claim that the arrests were arbitrary and part of a pattern of systematic harassment of transgender individuals.

In a joint letter sent to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, seven international human rights organisations – including the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission – called for an end to the harassment and expressed alarm at the convictions and potential imprisonment of the three activists.

In their letter, the organisations requested that Turkish authorities drop all charges against the activists and investigate the discriminatory treatment of transgender individuals by the police and courts.

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