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Suspects could face death penalty over rape of woman in Turkey

Activists have taken to the streets to protest against deadly assault on Ozgecan Aslan
Women shout slogans and hold placards reading "Ozgecan Aslan is our rebellion" during a demonstration in Istanbul against the murder of Ozgecan Aslan (AFP)

Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Minister Aysenur Islam said on Sunday that the death sentence could be an option for the murderers of a 20-year-old female university student in the southern province of Mersin.

Ozgecan Aslan, 20, was killed and burned after reportedly resisting sexual assault in Mersin's Tarsus district on Friday.

A court remanded in custody pending trial suspected murderer Ahmet Suphi Altindoken and suspected accomplices, his father Necmettin Altindoken and Fatih Gokce, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

The security sources said that the three suspects were kept in different custodial prisons during the detention period for security reasons.

Hundreds of people gathered across Turkey, including Sanliurfa, Izmir and Trabzon provinces on Sunday to protest the murder.

Her funeral was held on Saturday and her coffin was carried by women.

Islam expressed her deep sorrow over Ozgecan’s killing during her visit to the family of the young woman in Mersin.

“What Songul and Mehmet Aslan [father and mother of Ozgecan] experienced is the biggest disaster that a family can experience,” she told press members after the visit. 

Pointing to a possible death sentence over her killing, she noted: “Not as a minister but as a mother and woman, I think punishment of (this kind of) crimes can be death sentence. (...) We can put it on our agenda."

EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir added: "If something like this had happened to my daughter I would take a gun and I would punish (the attacker) myself. Afterwards I would accept whatever penalty I would be given." 

But Bozkir indicated he did not favour reimposing the death penalty, saying it was important to separate personal emotions and actions on a state level.

Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two daughters Sumeyye Erdogan and Esra Albayrak paid a visit to the family of the young woman to express their condolences.

President Erdogan and his wife Emine phoned Aslan's family on Saturday and condemned the murder. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also called the family, and said that everything would be done to “appropriately punish the murderers in this vicious attack.”

Rallies across Turkey in wake of murder

Protests, many of which were attended by large numbers of riot police, were also held on Saturday in Mersin as well as the capital Ankara - in Istanbul graffiti appeared on a wall reading “Rape is a crime against humanity: We will not forget Ozgecan.”

Hundreds of protesters filled Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square on Saturday night holding up banners reading “Ozgecan Aslan is our uprising.”

Five women were arrested in Taksim Square on Sunday after unfurling a banner bearing the same slogan.

Demonstrators at rallies across Turkey on Saturday called for the resignation of Aysenur Islam - dozens of rallies took place around the country on Sunday.

You Tell It Too hashtag takes off

Public anger surrounding Aslan’s murder has thrown the spotlight on violence against women in Turkey, where women’s rights activist Yasemin Yucel estimates that five women are killed every day.

Women and people from the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] communities have been sharing experiences of sexual harassment and violence using the hashtag Sendeanlat, which translates as You Tell It Too.

The hashtag was the most popular phrase on Turkish Twitter on Sunday, with thousands of people using the handle to speak publicly about their experiences of harassment.
Translation: Crossing to the other side of the street when you see a group of men approaching #YouTellItToo - See more at:

Translation: Crossing to the other side of the street when you see a group of men approaching #YouTellItToo

Translation: Getting filthy Facebook messages from strangers is just the beginning #YouTellItToo

Turkish DJ and music blogger Artemis Gunebakanli, who has shared her own experiences using the hashtag, told MEE on Sunday that "thousands and thousands of stories" are being shared.

"Women are sharing their stories of verbal, physical, sexual and psychological harrassment.

"Different kinds of abuse are an everyday thing for most women in Turkey.

"But the stories we are sharing show us that we are not alone, and provoke a little spark of courage."

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