Turkish police cracked down on 700th week of Saturday Mothers sit

by Meghan Bodette    


Turkish police cracked down on the 700th week of Saturday Mothers sit-ins in Istanbul, arresting demonstrators who had come to demand justice for forcibly disappeared relatives. At least 47 people have been detained, according to early reports from ANF News, though some have since been released. Demonstrators and journalists at the scene report that tear gas and water cannons were used to attack the peaceful gathering.


Faruk Eren, the president of DISK Basin-Is, a Turkish labor union, was held for several hours. Eren’s brother Hayrettin was disappeared 38 years ago.


Besna Tosun— the daughter of Fehmi Tosun, a Kurdish man abducted in 1995— was also detained and released hours later. She has played an active role in the Saturday Mothers movement, alongside her mother Hanim.


82-year-old Emine Ocak, whose son Hasan’s body was found five months after he was arrested in early 1995, was attacked by security forces and reportedly detained. Photographs of police dragging Ocak away from the square were shared on social media next to photographs of her 1997 arrest during an earlier Saturday Mothers protest. Several sources report that her daughter, Maside, was arrested as well.


Huda Kaya, an HDP MP for Istanbul, was one of several HDP officials who joined the demonstration. “For hours, we have been under constant attack. They still haven’t been able to disperse the crowd,” she said. “Like every week, we were to read the statement and go, but they couldn’t tolerate that. They did what befits them, and we will do what befits us. We didn’t disperse, we waited.”


Videos show HDP Diyarbakir MP Garo Paylan, Istanbul MP Ahmet Sik, and Kaya being beaten while trying to prevent police from arresting a demonstrator.


The Human Rights Association has called on the Interior Ministry to release all detainees and investigate members of the security forces who committed crimes.