Turkish police on Saturday prevented the Saturday Mothers, a group consisting of relatives of victims of enforced disappearances during the 1990s, from gathering at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square for the longest-running peaceful protest in the country.
The group was on the 945th week of their search for justice for their loved ones, most of them Kurds and left-wing activists who were forcibly disappeared in state custody.
The Constitutional Court had issued a ruling in the Saturday Mothers’ favour on Friday, stating that their right to peaceful assembly had been violated during police intervention on the gathering for the 700th week. In the same ruling, Turkey’s top court dismissed the appeal that the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment had been violated.
The Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Istanbul branch had led the appeal over the detention of 47 people at the time.
Another 20 people were detained during Saturday’s protest.
The Saturday Mothers will continue to advocate for their missing loved ones in weekly demonstrations in Galatasaray Square, a “place of memory”, they said.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called for an end to the pressure on human rights defenders, NGOs, journalists and lawyers, urging Turkish authorities to protect freedoms of expression, assembly and association. “All actors should refrain from using rhetoric that undermines human rights and incites hatred,” she said.