Saturday Mothers: This legal disgrace must end now
A lawsuit has been filed against Saturday Mothers and human rights defenders even if they were attacked by police. “The indictment was prepared without any evidence. This legal disgrace must end now,” they said.
Istanbul- On August 30, 2022, Saturday Mothers/People wanted to release a press statement at the Cemetery of the Nameless in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district to mark the International Day of the Disappeared. However, police attacked them and detained 14 members of the Saturday Mothers/ People. Although being attacked a lawsuit has been filed against them on charges of “opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations”. The first hearing of the trial was held on May 4, 2023.
Due to the small size of the courtroom of the 1st Criminal Court of First Instance at the Küçükçekmece Courthouse, the hearing was held at the courtroom of the 3rd High Criminal Court. Before the hearing, hundreds of police officers were placed in front of the courthouse. The members of the Saturday Mothers/People, Human Rights Association (IHD) Co-chair Eren Keskin, many lawyers and representatives of NGOs attended the hearing. In addition, a group consisting of human rights defenders, relatives of the disappeared and politicians monitored the hearing.
Many journalists were not allowed to enter the courtroom because there was no place for them. Lawyers demanded journalists to be allowed to enter the courtroom. The judge accepted the demand of the lawyers and asked the journalists to be allowed to enter the courtroom.
Mothers asked if they had children
At the hearing, mothers were asked if they were married and they had children. Saturday Mother Hanife Yıldız was asked if she had children or not. “My son disappeared in police custody 28 years ago,” Hanife Yıldız answered.
‘This legal disgrace must end now’
Gülseren Yoleri, head of the Human Rights Association (IHD) Istanbul Branch, made the first defense at the hearing, saying, “Our constitutional right to protest and demonstrate was unlawfully prohibited due to the ban issued by the district governor's office. An indictment was prepared against us without any evidence. I demand this legal disgrace must end now. A crime was committed on that day; however, this crime was not committed by us but by police officers.”
‘Prosecuting people seeking justice is unacceptable’
Öztürk Türkdoğan, a lawyer and Green Left Party’s parliamentary candidate from Istanbul, began to speak at the hearing. “Prosecuting people seeking justice to reveal the truth is unacceptable. The whole world is monitoring this hearing now. The UN Rapporteur said, 'human rights defenders cannot be prosecuted.’ I demand our acquittal.”
‘Those who detained us must be prosecuted’
Human rights defender Aynur Ergül, who participated in the protest of the Saturday Mothers and was detained along with them, said, “I am a human rights defender. I was there to support the families of the disappeared; however, police suddenly surrounded us. I used my constitutional, democratic and conscientious right. Those who detained us must be prosecuted, not us.”
After Saturday Mothers and human rights defenders submitted their defence, the court adjourned the hearing to May 26, 2023.