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Turkish riot police fired tear gas to disperse a large crowd of demonstrators protesting violence against women in Istanbul, as well as the government’s withdrawal from an international treaty dedicated to combating it.

The massive group of protesters, who number in the thousands, marched to Taksim Square in Istanbul on Thursday to mark the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”. They encountered a heavy police presence in the square, which was barricaded by officers dressed in heavy riot gear, who began firing tear gas at the crowd after ordering its dispersal.

Scuffles with police have been captured in videos circulating online, showing officers moving towards protesters to chase them from the area as tear gas floats in the air.

Protesters were also seen carrying a colorful assortment of placards and banners, some even carrying flares, while others chanted anti-government slogans and demanded an end to what has been dubbed by some activists as’femicide. ‘ Some 345 women in Turkey have been killed in acts of gender-based violence so far this year, slightly less than the 410 reported in 2020, according to “We Will Stop Femicide,” a women’s rights group.

The protest, which has reproduced on a smaller scale in other cities across the country, comes after the Turkish government formally withdrew from an international treaty intended to address violence against women in July . Known as the Istanbul Convention, the pact was originally negotiated in the same city in 2011, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to withdraw from the agreement has come under heavy criticism from both local activists and foreign leaders, with US President Joe Biden doubling down on move “deeply disappointing.”

Ankara, for its part, claimed that the convention had been “Hijacked” through “People who try to normalize homosexuality”, what he said was “Incompatible with the social and family values ​​of Turkey”. Nevertheless, the government insisted that it did not “give up your fight against domestic violence” and would be “Continue to protect the safety and rights of all women”.

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