Saturday Mothers violently attacked and detained by the police
Despite a contrary ruling by the Turkish Constitutional Court, Istanbul police have again attacked the Saturday Mothers' gathering at Galatasaray Square.
Turkish police have again attacked the Saturday Mothers at Galatasaray Square in Istanbul. The initiative wanted to make a statement for the 966th time on "disappearances" in state custody and demand punishment for the perpetrators on Istiklal Avenue.
For the past 26 weeks, the Saturday Mothers have been prevented by the police citing the decision of the Beyoğlu District Governor's Office as the reason for the ban and mass detention of human rights defenders during the action every Saturday.
Despite a contrary ruling by the Turkish Constitutional Court, the blockade of their ancestral rally site was not lifted today either. The Galatasaray Square on the central Istiklal Avenue was widely cordoned off by barriers and grids in the early morning, with patrol cars and prisoner transport vehicles parked in the side streets. Riot police were deployed with a large contingent to prevent the group from approaching the square, also blocking all the side-streets leading to the square.
On their way to Galatasaray Square, the Saturday Mothers were accompanied by human rights defenders, as well as the Human Rights Association (IHD) President Eren Keskin, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Party Assembly Member Musa Piroğlu and the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP) MP Ahmet Şık.
The Saturday Mothers and human rights advocates were besieged by the police after starting to march to the square in two groups. A number of people were battered, handcuffed and detained during the crackdown, including IHD President Eren Keskin.
The journalists covering the demonstration were battered and pushed back from the scene.
In 1995, women in Istanbul took to the streets for the first time to draw attention to relatives who had been arrested and then disappeared. Since a large-scale attack on the Saturday Mothers ordered by the Ministry of Interior in the summer five years ago, Galatasaray Square has been a no-go zone for the Saturday Mothers. But this is contrary to the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration, ruled the Turkish Constitutional Court on 22 February 2023, rejecting the ministry's objection that the Saturday Mothers threatened the "protection of public order". "Everyone has the right to take part in unarmed and peaceful assemblies and demonstrations without prior permission," says Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution, which the security authorities violated by banning the Saturday Mothers' forcefully dispersed action in August 2018 and all subsequent ones. The blockade of the square is therefore invalid, said the court ruling. The Turkish Interior Ministry and the Istanbul police ignore the ruling and continue to violently crack down on Saturday Mothers.