A total of 357 people were allegedly mistreated by Turkish police in June, according to a report made public on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu.
While most incidents took place during confrontations with police at demonstrations, 32 of the incidents occurred in prisons. Five victims of mistreatment were minors.
The report added that police intervened in 23 demonstrations in one month. One of the most publicized cases was the Saturday Mothers demonstration in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square, where demonstrators gather to demand justice for their loved ones who disappeared in police custody in the 1990s.
“Every week, the Saturday Mothers demonstrators are detained by the police, despite previous rulings by the Constitutional Court deeming police interventions a violation of the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration,” said Tanrıkulu.
The Saturday Mothers, who first gathered on May 27, 1995 in Galatasaray Square on İstanbul’s İstiklal Street and have continued meeting there every Saturday for a silent protest since then, has staged the longest-running protest Turkey has ever witnessed.
Police brutality toward peaceful demonstrators is not uncommon in Turkey. According to recent data from the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), Turkish police employed unlawful tactics including mistreatment and beating while detaining 13,935 people between 2018 and 2021.
In an earlier statement the TİHV said restricting or suspending the freedoms of assembly and demonstration was a way to narrow the scope of democratic citizenship and to gradually destroy democracy in Turkey.
Furthermore, ill-treatment and torture have become widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers and prisons. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.
An annual report by Amnesty International on the state of human rights in the world revealed that serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were made in Turkey last year.