Turkey: Police detain human rights defenders and relatives of disappeared people on Saturday Mothers/People 900th vigil

Riot police prevented a peaceful vigil by human rights defenders demonstrating on behalf of people who have been forcibly disappeared in Turkey. Police handcuffed and detained the head of the Human Rights Association, Öztürk Türkdoğan, prominent human rights lawyer, Eren Keskin, and several relatives of victims of enforced disappearances from the Saturday Mothers/People. The vigil convened today for the 900th time in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square. Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, Julia Hall said:

“For the past 27 years, the Saturday Mothers have tirelessly sought truth and justice for their loved ones who were forcibly disappeared in the 1980s and 1990s. Riot police arbitrarily detained people who were peacefully participating today’s landmark Saturday Mothers/People vigil. This is only the latest shameful example of the state authorities’ intolerance of lawful, peaceful dissent.

“Time and again, the Saturday Mothers/People have been met with brutal crackdowns and even prosecutions for taking part in peaceful vigils. Turkish authorities have never provided a valid justification for their spiteful, arbitrary and unlawful denial of the right to exercise freedom of expression and assembly.

“Turkish authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful expression and assembly. The four year-long unlawful, arbitrary ban on assemblies in Galatasaray Square must be lifted, Saturday Mothers/People and others who wish to exercise their right to peaceful protest in this iconic square must be allowed to do so.”

For more information about the Saturday Mothers visit https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/eur440171998en.pdf