Turkey’s ‘Saturday Mothers’ meet for 702nd week despite police threats

Photo: ANF

Turkey’s Saturday Mothers, whose gatherings in İstanbul’s Galatasaray Square have been banned by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, met in front of the Human Rights Association (İHD) İstanbul office for the 702nd week despite the fact that police told the grieving mothers to “Stop with the show.”

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), people at this week’s demonstration asked what happened to Kenan Bilgin after he disappeared while in police custody.

ANF Images

Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Garo Paylan, Züleyha Gülüm, Ali Kenanoğlu and Ahmet Şık; Labor Party (EMEP) Chairperson Selma Gürkan; Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) Presidential Council Member Alper Taş; slain Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s son, Arat Dink; relatives of the disappeared; and various democratic organizations participated in the demonstration. Bar association chairpersons from a number of provinces and members of the Writers Union of Turkey were among the supporters of the relatives of the disappeared.

The Saturday Mothers started marching from İHD headquarters to Galatasaray Square, but they were cut off by the police in Büyükparmakkapı Street. The group protested the arbitrary barrier by holding an impromptu sit-in on the street and then read their weekly statement despite police announcements that they were going to intervene.

ANF Images

Hanife Yıldız, the 65-year-old mother of the disappeared Murat Yıldız, protested the police’s incessant announcements. The grieving old mother said: “I am a mother and I am trying to learn the fate of my son. You can’t stop me,” before she fainted. A police chief told her to “Stop with the show.”

This week’s statement was read by Besna Tosun, daughter of the disappeared Fehmi Tosun. The crowd asked what happened of Kenan Bilgin, who disappeared while in custody on September 12, 1994.

“We will never stop searching for our disappeared relatives,” Tosun said, adding: “Disappearances under custody is defined in international law as a crime against humanity. According to international law, it is the responsibility of states to protect every person from disappearing into custody and to punish this crime effectively.”

“We as the relatives of the disappeared and as rights defenders have been demanding for 702 weeks that the state fulfill this duty. Hours before our 700th meeting in Galatasaray Square, we were battered and targeted by tear gas canisters under severe police brutality, we were tortured, wounded and detained,” Tosun said.

“Today, our meeting place with our disappeared loved ones, Galatasaray Square, is under siege by water cannons, construction equipment and steel and concrete barricades. Armed policemen were stationed to stand against the photographs and carnations we carry.”

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