Prosecutors close case Turkish police officer filed against Saturday Mothers

An investigation launched upon a police officer's complaint into Turkey's Saturday Mothers has been dropped. The officer claimed that the human rights defenders' lawyer injured him during a vigil which the police prevented despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

Duvar English

A Turkish prosecutor's office found “no punishable offense” in the investigation launched into Saturday Mothers upon a police officer’s complaint. The prosecutors stated, “The police do not hold the right to use force without warning in each demonstration and meeting that has become unlawful,” Canan Coşkun from the online news outlet Diken reported on Oct. 6

Accordingly, the police intervened at the Saturday Mothers’ vigil at Galatasaray Square on July 8th, 2023, detaining 41 human rights defenders and harassing journalists. After the incident, police officer Ali Hıracı pressed charges against lawyer Murat Çelik for “injuring” him. Lawyer Çelik was among those battered and detained. A Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul then launched an investigation into 31 people upon the police officer’s complaint.

The prosecutors declared on Sept. 19 that they found no visual evidence or eyewitnesses of officer Hıracı’s alleged injury, and lawyer Çelik’s reaction is classified as ”passive resistance.“

They also reminded that the police are entitled to the right to use force only in situations where “assault or resistance against them or the people and location they protect” is apparent.

Adding that the July 8 event had no criminal element, the prosecutors noted that the individuals in question did not “violate the law on demonstrations.”

What had happened?

Saturday Mothers have been staging sit-in protests at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square since 1995 demanding the fate of their relatives who disappeared under custody and the prosecution of the perpetrators.

In the 700th meeting in 2018, police attacked Saturday Mothers and detained 46 people. Since then, authorities have not allowed the group to gather at the historic Galatasaray Square, and a permanent police barricade was stationed in the square with heavily armed security forces.

The Constitutional Court (AYM) on Feb. 23 ruled that the ban of the Beyoğlu District Governor’s Office on the 700th-week gathering of the Saturday Mothers and the police intervention against it was a “violation of the right to organize meetings and demonstrations.”

Every Saturday since April after the AYM’s ruling, Saturday Mothers have been trying to make a press statement by leaving carnations at Galatasaray Square and have been detained by the police.