20/03/2023 | Writer: Selma Koçak
Esmeray Özadikti announced that she had become a candidate for parliamentary nomination from Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP).
Esmeray Özadikti, a well-known performer and a trans activist, announced that she had become a candidate for parliamentary nomination from Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP).
Chairperson Erkan Baş pinned the badge of TİP on Esmeray, who stated that she evaluated the Party’s LGBTI+ Rights Commission proposal. Gathering at the party's central office, TİP LGBTI+ Rights Commission, Chairperson Erkan Baş and Esmeray announced both membership and parliamentary nomination candidacy of Esmeray.
Following the announcement, Esmeray expressed her feelings to KaosGL.org: “Young people offered it and I accepted. May this auspicious occasion light up our LGBTI+ struggle.”
Esmeray: A resistance story from Ülker Street to theatre
Esmeray, who earned brownie points with her single performances like The Witch’s Bundle and Uncut Stories, is also one of the Ülker Street girls. Esmeray, who is one of the trans woman exiled from Ülker Street with the cooperation of the police and the grey wolves, was also active in politics at Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the following years.
Esmeray, who is considered as a leading name for the feminist movement in Turkey, had told her whole story for Trails, prepared by Kaos GL as an oral history study.
Esmeray, is one of those who marched at the first İstanbul Pride March in 2003 and she describes those days as follows:
“Eight or ten of us went out and marched. Fifty people at the top of Mis Street the following year... So it went on and on and... We were excited, and the police were making fun of us. They didn’t even pay attention to us. I don’t remember the exact things, but I know that we were extremely excited. We left the association building, we had a little flag. You know, that big flag right now, which everyone’s holding and walking around in Istiklal. There were smaller ones then, we were holding it eight or nine people, we were walking. It was something like that.” (pp. 99-100)
And Esmeray remembers Ülker Street as follows:
“Back in ‘92, ‘93, a police chief named Süleyman the Hose came to the Ülker Street. We knew Suleiman the Hose. Now you know the violence of him. They had hoses, three individual hoses. We were constantly being detained when we entering the house, and we were being detained at the checkpoints. We couldn’t go out on the street, we couldn’t shop, we were picked up on the way to the grocery store. We were being detained everywhere. Süleyman the Hose suddenly left, he was appointed to somewhere else. We were so happy.
There was a Habitat period in ‘96 or something. And they said that Süleyman the Hose will come back. You know, because a direct operation to clean up Istanbul has begun. Who are they going to clean up? They’re going to clean up street kids, hobos, and transvestites. They’re bringing the Hose. Süleyman the Hose came back to Beyoğlu. And since it was summer, everyone’s gone on vacation. We said, “Let’s go on vacation, meanwhile the Hose would go away and we can return to our home” We were wrong. It turns out the Hose has come to settle down. Of course, the first raids to Ülker Street... Terrible raids. The street was closed. There was martial law on the street. There were always police waiting outside everyone’s door. We couldn’t get out. We were taking our lovers in from back doors. Those lovers of us were so determined that we discovered places from in the backsides of buildings. Think about it now, we’re on the fifth floor. We come down from the fifth floor with duvets, sheets tied together, we climb down. There are gaps in that alley, and we’re going from that gap to the other street. We’ve discovered a place at the entrance to the other street building, we’re going through the coal depot of that building to the other street. The lover is coming. We’re describing the route to him, and he goes through that coal depot. We take the lover up to the fifth floor with things. That’s how the lovers came. That’s the way it is. It was a lot of fun. So, for example, I don’t know how much fear we felt, when we heard that Süleyman the Hose was coming we were jumping down from the fifth floor and poof! I probably can’t do it now. And I have a fear of heights. And you say you can’t, but you do it. Suleiman the Hose has put some serious pressure. In the end, the doors were broken, all the doors were broken with sledgehammers, houses were burned, arson, things were thrown into the streets. We can’t go out on the street anymore. We lost the street. Then we fell apart. Everyone’s gone somewhere.” (pp.70-71)
Tags: human rights, women