Saturday Mothers file complaint alleging mistreatment by police at demonstration

(Photo: Turkish Minute)

Lawyers representing members of the Saturday Mothers have filed a criminal complaint alleging police mistreatment of the activist group during its 967th weekly vigil in İstanbul on Saturday, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The complaint includes details about a physical assault and rear-handcuffing of several members of the group who were detained during a police intervention. Multiple handcuffs were placed on some of the activists.

The lawyers’ statement condemned the mistreatment as unjustified since the activists had not shown any resistance to the detentions.

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.

The vigils, which saw the participation of larger numbers of people on landmark dates such as the 500th and 600th week, had been held peacefully without any restrictions by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government until the 700th week in 2018, when dozens of protestors were detained after police broke up the protest.

The trial of the 46 people who were detained during the 700th gathering and are facing charges of “participating in unlawful meetings and marches and refusing to disperse despite warnings and the use of force” is ongoing.

The Constitutional Court ruled on November 16, 2022 that the police intervention in the 700th-week vigil was a violation of the right to freedom of assembly.

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