Turkish police on Wednesday broke up a protest held by the Saturday Mothers, a group of activists and family members seeking the whereabouts of loved ones who disappeared while in police custody in Turkey in the 1990s, and detained some relatives of the victims as well as their lawyers, Turkish Minute reported.
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 used force to break up the protest. Some of the protestors were later indicted.
Wednesday’s protest took place in front of the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan ahead of the fifth hearing of a trial of 46 people who are charged with “refusal to disperse despite warning and use of force” under Article 32/1 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations during the 700th weekly vigil of the Saturday Mothers.
According to Gazete Duvar, the protestors wanted to read out a statement, but the police intervened to prevent it and detained some relatives of the victims as well as their lawyers. Alper Taş, party council member of the SOL (Left) Party, in addition to Broadcasting and Printer Workers Union (DİSK BASIN-İŞ) President Faruk Eren were among those who were detained.