Turkish police once again detain Saturday Mothers, disregarding top court’s ruling

Turkish police have once again prevented Saturday Mothers’ vigil in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square and detained at least 32 human rights defenders.

Can Bursalı / Gazete Duvar

Turkish police once again attacked and detained members of Saturday Mothers ("Cumartesi Anneleri" in Turkish) on Sept. 2, and barricaded them and press at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square.

The police detained at least 32 human rights defenders and they were later released during the day after hours in custody. 

Before the detention, the police “announced” that it was stated that the vigil was banned by the Beyoğlu District Governor's Office.

The move came despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling that says the ban on meetings of Saturday Mothers is “unconstitutional.”

"Our friends, who were unlawfully detained before our 962th vigil, have all been released after 5 hours in police custody and from 3 hospitals, all of which are far away from Galatasaray. We will continue our fight to rid these lands from the shame of enforced disappearances," 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)