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The time is gone!

30/08/2022: Today police prevented a peaceful protest by the Saturday Mothers/People to mark the International Day of the Disappeared at the Altinsehir cemetery of the nameless. 14 people were detained. They were all released after their statements were taken. This continued use of detention to prevent the exercise of the right to protest is a clear violation.

The Saturday Mothers, along with other relatives and supporters, have been holding a peaceful weekly vigil on Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square since 1995 to demand justice for their loved ones who were taken by state authorities, never to be seen again. 

Their loved ones were forcibly disappeared in the 1980s and 1990s when hundreds of women and men including some children were detained.

On 25 August 2018, which marked their 700th vigil, police in Istanbul used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the peaceful gathering of hundreds of people, including the Saturday Mothers/People, some of whom are in their 80s. Dozens of people were detained on the day.

Since then, the peaceful protest has been banned and Galatasaray Square has been surrounded by police barriers and occupied by riot police.

46 people, including some of the relatives, are on trial for their participation in the 700th vigil. Their trial is ongoing, with the fifth hearing scheduled for 21 September 2022.

Time and again, the Saturday Mothers/People have been met with brutal crackdowns and prosecutions for taking part in peaceful vigils. As the longest ongoing peaceful protest in Turkey, it is emblematic of the severe and unlawful restrictions on the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly in the country.

Saturday Mothers/People and others who wish to exercise their right to peaceful protest in this iconic square must be allowed to do so, without unlawful restrictions, physical or judicial intimidation and harassment and threats.

Call on Turkish authorities to drop the charges against the 46 peaceful protesters and to lift the ban on the Saturday Mothers/People’s vigil in Galatasaray Square.