Police block Saturday Mothers' 964th weekly protest in Istanbul

Police block Saturday Mothers' 964th weekly protest in Istanbul
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Once more, Istanbul police disrupted the weekly protest of the Saturday Mothers, detaining many people in the group

Police in Istanbul have once again thwarted the weekly protest of the Saturday Mothers, a group of women and their supporters who have been gathering at Galatasaray Square since 1995 to demand justice and accountability for their children who were victims of forced disappearances in the 1980s and 1990s in Turkey.

In their 964th weekly protest, like many before, the group tried to march to Galatasaray Square, but the police cited the Beyoğlu Governorate's "ban" decision and did not allow the procession, erecting barricades at both entrances of Istiklal Avenue, one of Istanbul's most vibrant pedestrian-only routes, causing a standstill and blocking all foot traffic. Police rounded up the demonstrators and later detained all of them in reverse handcuffs.

The protestors have been convening week after week, with the aim of seeking answers and justice for their family members who disappeared while in police custody. However, their repeated attempts to gather and hold a press conference at the Galatasaray Square was once again halted by the police, marking this as the 24th instance of such prevention post the Constitutional Court's verdict declaring the infringement of rights due to the disruption of these protests.

Hanife Yıldız, a mother who lost her son in detention, asked the police officers who had set up a barricade: "What will you achieve by keeping me away from the press? I gave my son, I want my son.”

Despite a decision by Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM) in 2019 that declared the government's ban on demonstrations in Galatasaray Square as a violation of freedom of assembly, police have continued to impose a blockade around the area, preventing the Saturday Mothers from holding their weekly vigil.

Since the first week of April, the Saturday Mothers have attempted to resume their weekly gatherings in Galatasaray Square every Saturday, but the police, who do not recognize the AYM's ruling on the violation of rights, have intervened and arrested them every week.