Turkish police disregard top court ruling for 23rd time, detain at least 41 during Saturday Mothers’ vigil

Turkish police have prevented Saturday Mothers’ vigil in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square despite the Constitutional Court ruling for the 23rd time and detained at least 41 human rights defenders.

Ferhat Yaşar / Gazete Duvar

Turkish police once again attacked and detained members of Saturday Mothers ("Cumartesi Anneleri" in Turkish) on Sept. 16, and barricaded them and press at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square.

The police detained at least 41 human rights defenders during the vigil.

This is the 23rd time the police have intervened in the vigil despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling saying the ban on meetings of Saturday Mothers is “unconstitutional.”

“Our will to search for our lost (beloved ones) cannot be hindered by prohibitions. We are in Galatasaray. We are not giving up,” Saturday Mothers said on Twitter.

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 do not allow 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.

(English version by Alperen Şen)