A gay Syrian man has been found decapitated after being kidnapped and raped in Istanbul, local media has reported.
The victim, Wisam Sankari, a Syrian refugee in Istanbul, was so badly mutilated that his friends had to identify him by the trousers he was wearing.
According to various local news sources , Sankari left his home on 23 July and was found dead on 25 July. Another report names the date he was found dead as Sunday 31 July.
Found in Yenikapi, he had been stabbed multiple times and had been decapitated. He arrived in Istanbul a year ago as a refugee.
But all reports say he had previously been kidnapped and raped by a crowd of men, and that he had attempted to leave Turkey as his life was in danger there.
Rayan, Diya and Gorkem, Sankari’s friends, spoke to KaosGL.org after his murder to say they had complained to authorities but that no action was taken.
They were left asking “who is next?”
Of the victim, Rayan said: “He was feeling very insecure recently. When we asked him, he would not tell us much”.
But he said Sankari and his other friends had been threatened with knives several times, and that they had also been faced with threats of rape from male groups.
“We were staying in a different house before and we had to leave that house just because we are gay. People around would constantly stare at us. We did not do anything immoral? About five months ago, a group kidnapped Wisam in Fatih. They took him to a forest, beat him and raped him. They were going to kill him but Wisam saved himself by jumping at the road. We complained to the Police Headquarters but nothing happened.”
“We identified him from his pants”, Rayan added, criticising the United Nations and Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) organisations for not doing more to protect LGBT+ people.
He said: “What’s the use of them doing anything after Wisam is killed? Our friend is dead.”
Gorkem added: “That night Wisam left the house. We were already anxious because of the threats. We told him not to go but he said he was going out for 15-20 minutes. He didn’t come home all night. The next day, we panicked when we couldn’t reach him. We went to the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM). They directed us to Fatih Police Headquarters. We did not even know how to get there or what to say.
“On Sunday police called us. We went to Yenikapi with Rayan. They had cut Wisam violently. So violent that two knives had broken inside him. They had beheaded him. His upper body was beyond recognition, his internal organs were out. We could identify our friend from his pants.”
Another friend of Sankari’s, Diya, says: “I am so scared. I feel like everyone is staring at me on the street. I was kidnapped twice before. They let me go in Cerkezkoy and I barely got home one time. I went to the UN for my identification but they did not even respond to that. No one cares about us. They just talk. I get threats over the phone. I speak calmly so something does not happen. It does not matter if you are Syrian or Turkish, if you are gay you are everyone’s target. They want sex from you and when you don’t they just tag along. I don’t have identification, who would protect me? Who is next?”
Officials in Turkey earlier this year ordered that the capital’s Pride parade be cancelled – claiming the ban was because of ‘security’ concerns following a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando which left 49 dead.
Last week, when demonstrators took to the streets, over 300 police officers were deployed to the scene in riot gear. A water cannon was also seen at the site of the march.
According to reports, one man tore up a pro gay-rights banner.
During a “scuffle” as was described by the BBC, police opened fire with tear gas, using rubber bullets.
Last year’s Istanbul Pride was also forcibly dispersed by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.