After a criminal case was filed against them on the basis of "unauthorized assembly" over the 700th week of their demonstrations in 2018, the Saturday Mothers have criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent plans for a judiciary reform in a statement on Nov. 24.
“Don't waste our time with your so-called reforms, hear our demands for justice and open the doors of the courtrooms to justice already,” said the statement.
On Saturdays since 1995, members of the Saturday Mothers gather and demand justice for their relatives who disappeared and were killed allegedly after being detained by undercover units.
After the authorities in 2018 banned the group from gathering in Istanbul's Galatasaray Square, the group started to hold their vigils in front of the office of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD). Since March, the group had been holding their demonstrations online due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It was the 700th Saturday in August of 2018 where police violently intervened in the demonstration, and now the Saturday Mothers and some of the group's allies are being sued for their participation.
Terms of up to three years being sought for 46 people in the indictment prepared by prosecutor Fatih Dönmez.
“The government has changed 17 times since we started going to Galatasaray. However, the politics of denial and impunity regarding our losses has never changed,” the Saturday Mothers said in their statement.
Though Erdoğan once met with the Saturday Mothers in 2011, the government's stance toward the group turned sour after the peace process between the state and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) collapsed in 2015.
“They wanted to put on their 700th show, but we didn't allow it because wanted to put an end to this exploitation and deception. Were we supposed to turn a blind eye to the exploitation of motherhood by a terrorist organization?” said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in 2018.