Police in Istanbul crack down on Saturday Mothers' peaceful protest

Police in Istanbul crack down on Saturday Mothers' peaceful protest
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Police intervened and detained around 20 people at Istanbul's Saturday Mothers' peaceful demonstration, disregarding rulings by the Constitutional Court on freedom of assembly.

Police in Istanbul once again prevented a peaceful demonstration of Saturday Mothers, a group of women 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.

Around 20 people were detained during the intervention. Police this time cited the “Champions League Final” which will be played in Istanbul as the reason for their prevention.

Carrying carnations, the mothers and their supporters proceeded to Istiklal Avenue but despite the "violations" rulings of the Constitutional Court (AYM), the police blockade rounded up the group members in their 950th gathering in Galatasaray Square, and detained all the demonstrators.

This week, they received support from prominent figures such as Burcugul Cubuk, a deputy from the Green and Left Future Party, and Musa Piroglu, former deputy of the Peoples' Democratic Party.

Expressing their dismay, the Saturday Mothers and human rights advocates emphasized that the siege of the square violated the constitution. The police claimed that the ban was due to the high influx of people expected for the Champions League match and justified their actions by citing the possibility of a terrorist attack.

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.