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Harmanci fury as ‘ministry’ strikes Istanbul convention from violence against women protocol

feature esra mehmet harmanci won almost 50 per cent of the votes in nicosia
Mehmet Harmanci

Turkish Cypriot Nicosia Mayor Mehmet Harmanci has reacted furiously after the north’s ‘labour ministry’ removed the Istanbul convention from northern Nicosia’s violence against women protocol.

The Istanbul convention was signed by the states of the Council of Europe in 2011 and acts as a treaty on combatting domestic violence and violence against women. Turkey left the Istanbul convention in 2021.

The protocol which Harmanci was due to sign is renewed every year between the Nicosia Turkish Municipality (LTB), the ‘labour ministry’, the ‘health ministry’, the ‘education ministry’, and the Turkish Cypriot police.

However, with the annual signing set to take place to coincide with the International Day for the elimination of violence against women on Saturday, Harmanci said the ‘labour ministry’ had “made unilateral changes regarding the protocol and removed the Istanbul convention.”

He said that for this reason, he could not sign the protocol in its current state.

Speaking to Yeni Duzen about the matter, he said “last minute and unilateral changes are not fair, nor are they ethical. The Istanbul convention is our red line.”

In an earlier social media post, he had written “a few hours before we were due to sign the protocol, it came to our knowledge that critical changes were made [to it] by completely unilaterally removing the Istanbul convention from the text. I told the relevant parties this is unacceptable, and I will not sign the protocol in this state.”

He had earlier described the Istanbul convention as “one of the most important achievements in the fight against violence against women”.

In addition, he said the LTB women’s shelter has provided a total of 85 women with the support they needed after escaping from dangerous and violent situations since it opened in 2016.

‘Labour minister’ Sadik Gardiyanoglu defended the move to Yeni Duzen later, saying the reference to the Istanbul convention had been removed in favour of a more general “international agreements” clause.

He added, “the Istanbul convention is a contract accepted by parliament. I can only ignore it if parliament rejects and ignores it.”

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