Turkish police once again stop 'Saturday Mothers' protest for disappeared activists

Turkish riot police on Saturday stopped a group known as ‘Saturday Mothers,’ who have gathered every week since the 1980s to silently protest political assassinations and state-forced disappearances in the 1980s and 1990s, from their sit-in protest in İstanbul’s Galatasaray Square, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

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 main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu were on site to support the group on Saturday, it said.

“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-forced 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