Turkish police once again stop ‘Saturday Mothers’ protest for disappeared people

Turkish riot police on Saturday stopped a group known as the Saturday Mothers, who have gathered every week since the 1980s to silently protest extra-judicial killings and state-enforced disappearances in the 1980s and 1990s, from their sit-in in İstanbul’s Galatasaray Square, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Turkey’s longest-running peaceful protest has been prevented from gathering by the police since the 700th week of their vigil on Aug. 25 with police in previous weeks using used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group.

Police on Saturday announced a ban by the municipality of Beyoğu and used shields to once again prevent the group from arriving at their vigil location, Cumhuriyet said.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Hüda Kaya, Garo Paylan and Pervin Buldan as well as Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu were on site to support the group on Saturday.

“It’s a waste of time and effort to have so much security here. The reason for the pressure and use of force after 700 weeks of no crackdown whatsoever on the group is the current government’s desire to take over and further enhance the practices of the former deep Turkish state,’’ Tanrıkulu said in a statement.

A representative of the Saturday Mothers stressed the group would never give up on its cause in the 706th week of their protest, noting, “No matter how many years pass by, we will never give up on looking for our deceased and gathering in Galatasaray with the hope of reuniting with those we have lost.’’

Between 1992 and 1996, 792 state-enforced disappearances and murders were reported in Turkey’s Kurdish dominant east in the conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish insurgents, according to the Human Rights Association (İHD).

Turkish parliament speaker: Extrajudicial killings a ‘disturbing term’

Meanwhile, a parliamentary proposal to investigate the killings of 11 villagers in Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakır in 1993 was overturned by the Parliament Speaker’s Office on the grounds that it included vulgar and hurtful words such as “murders by unknown assailants” and “extrajudicial killings,” the left-wing Artı Gerçek news website reported on Friday.

The proposal requested the creation of a parliamentary inquiry committee after the case related to the killings of 11 villagers was dismissed last month due to the statute of limitations.

The proposal submitted to the Parliament’s Speaker’s Office by HDP deputy Abdullah Koç, said that Turkey witnessed for 40 years practices such as extra-judicial killings, massacres, forced displacements and torture as a result of the Kurdish conflict in the country.

Turkish Parliament Speaker and former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım returned the proposal, saying it contained vulgar terms like “massacre,” “extra-judicial killings,” “murders by unknown assailants,” “enforced disappearances,” “enforced displacement” and “systematic torture.”

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), in the 1990s, during the armed conflict between the Turkish military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey, the security forces compelled hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their villages, and carried out enforced disappearances and killings of thousands of civilians.

Human Rights Watch also said that Turkey’s 20-year statute of limitations on the prosecution of unlawful killings in the 1990s remains a major obstacle to justice. (SCF with Ahval)

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