Saturday Mothers: We will continue to demand justice and not give up Galatasaray Square
Despite a ruling by the Turkish Constitutional Court, Istanbul police have again attacked the Saturday Mothers' gathering at Galatasaray Square. More than thirty people were taken into custody in the crackdown.
Turkish police have again attacked the Saturday Mothers at Galatasaray Square in Istanbul. The initiative wanted to make a statement on "disappearances" in state custody and demand punishment for the perpetrators on Istiklal Avenue. As in previous weeks, the demonstrators were faced with a police crackdown and at least 32 people were taken into custody by force, and hands tied behind their backs.
In addition to members of the Saturday Mothers and relatives of the disappeared, those detained include supporters of the initiative and civil society activists. Two women, Maside Ocak Kışlakçı, the sister of Hasan Ocak, who was tortured to death in prison in Istanbul in 1995, and Besna Tosun, the daughter of Fehmi Tosun, who was also abducted by armed civilian police in Istanbul the same year and has been missing since, managed to get past the barriers and throw carnations onto Galatasaray Square. "This place belongs to us. We will not give up Galatasaray Square and will continue to demand justice and clarification of the fate of our missing here," Tosun shouted towards the police.
The Saturday Mothers have been demanding information about their relatives who have disappeared in state custody during the notorious 1990s in Galatasaray Square since 1995. Their weekly meetings are considered the longest-running action of civil disobedience in Turkey. Since a massive police raid in August 2018, rallies in the square have been banned. By order of the Ministry of Interior, a new ban order is issued every week for gatherings of the group. However, according to a ruling by the Turkish Constitutional Court on 22 February 2023, this contradicts the right to freedom of assembly. Maside Ocak Kışlakçı was successful with the constitutional complaint against the ban.
Since April, the Saturday Mothers and their supporters have been demanding the implementation of the ruling in Galatasaray Square. However, the Ministry of Interior and the police are still preventing the initiative from gathering in their traditional square.