New Zealand MPs pen letter to President Erdoğan on eve of Saturday Mothers' 1000th gathering

Some 39 deputies of the New Zealand parliament on May 23 wrote a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, urging him not to hinder the gatherings of the Saturday Mothers on the eve of their 1000th week to demand the fates of their forcefully disappeared relatives.

Duvar English

Thirty-nine members of parliament from New Zealand wrote a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç, and Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya on the eve of the 1000th gathering of the Saturday Mothers, urging them to allow the meeting without any obstructions. 

The group will hold their 1000th gathering on May 25 at Galatasaray Square in Istanbul, to demand accountability for their relatives who were lost or killed under custody in the 1980s and 1990s. 

The deputies emphasized the repression the Saturday Mothers/People faced despite the peaceful nature of their long-standing demonstrations.

Most significantly, their 700th meeting in 2018 was violently dispersed by police. Galatasaray Square has since been closed to the public to prevent the Saturday Mothers from meeting there, despite being one of the most central locations in the city. 

Deputies noted that although the group was allowed to meet without police intervention since November 2023, arbitrary restrictions such as allowing them to meet with only ten participants were still imposed.

All these disruptions violated the April 2023 Constitutional Court rulings, which found that banning gatherings was unconstitutional. 

The deputies listed demands from the president and deputies regarding the freedom of assembly, persecution, and demands of the Saturday Mothers. 

“Turkish officials must implement the Constitutional Court's rulings and take immediate measures to allow the Saturday Mothers to meet at Galatasaray Square,” urged the deputies.

The approaching 1000th gathering was to take place without any arbitrary restrictions.

Furthermore, the deputies requested that all investigations and prosecutions against participants initiated since the April 2023 Constitutional Court ruling be terminated.

Also, the Turkish government needed to initiate criminal investigations and prosecutions against law enforcement officers accused of using excessive force and engaging in torture and ill-treatment to disperse meetings and demonstrations.

“Take all necessary steps to guarantee the right of any relative of a forcibly disappeared person to know the circumstances of the disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person, as well as the right to seek, receive, and impart information for this purpose,” continued the deputies’ demands. 

To this end, Turkey must sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without further delay. 

Finally, the deputies evoked the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and demanded that the Turkish government comply with all provisions.

The letter particularly noted Articles 7, 9, and 21 which pertain to torture, arbitrary arrest, and the right of peaceful assembly.