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Turkish police. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Turkish police. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A statement from Solidarity with the People of Turkey on the recent attack against the Saturday Mothers

On the 700th week of one of the longest running peaceful protests in Turkey, the Saturday Mothers and their supporters congregated in Galatasaray Square at midday. Across Europe solidarity vigils were held to support the demands of the Saturday mothers and raise awareness of this ongoing fight for those responsible to be held accountable for the extrajudicial killings and disappearances in state custody. 
 
Support for the Saturday Mothers has been increasing across Turkey and Europe, and their just cause has rightfully gained prominence. It is within this backdrop that the Istanbul Governor announced that the 700th Saturday Mothers vigil was banned. 
 
Defying the ban, the Saturday Mothers announced on their twitter feed “under all circumstances we have held a vigil in this square for 699 weeks. We will be there again this week.” 
 
Whilst peaceful solidarity demonstrations were convening in Europe, the Saturday mothers and their supporters in Istanbul's Galatasaray Square were met with police aggression and violence. Turkish police refused to allow entry into the square, but the Saturday Mothers, supported by opposition MPs, leaders, lawyers and activists, resisted this undemocratic restriction on the freedom of assembly and protest. Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, co-chairs of the HDP; Garo Paylan, Ahmet Sik and Erkan Bas, HDP MPs; as well as Ali Seker, Sezgin Tanrikulu, Onursal Adiguzel, CHP MPs attended Galatasaray Square in support of the Saturday mothers, and were amongst the resisting group of protestors who managed to gain entry to Galatasaray Square and hold a vigil. The police attacked protestors outside of Galatasaray Square with plastic bullets and teargas. During the clashes Levent Gokcek, DISK/Gida-IS Trade Union General Secretary was also arrested. The vigil was attended by many trade union and political parties representatives including KESK, EMEP, ÖDP and TİP.
 
25 people, including the loved ones of the disappeared, journalists and activists were assaulted by police and arrested. 
 
The plight of the Saturday mothers raises fundamental questions about arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, access to justice and due process in a country that is increasingly autocratic and has no respect for democracy. 
 
On Sunday afternoon, hundreds gathered in Trafalgar Square to raise our voices in support of the Saturday mothers. 
 
SPOT stands in solidarity with the Saturday mothers who represent the social conscience of a country that is increasingly unashamed in its refusal to respect democratic rights, rule of law and due process. We also condemn the political support given to Erdogan's regime by the British government which legitimises the attacks on democratic forces and call for trade unions, political parties and others to condemn state brutality in Turkey. 
 
As the SPOT steering group we invite you to join us in raising awareness of situation in Turkey and the fight for justice that the Saturday mothers represent.

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