Turkish police arbitrarily arrest activists in peaceful vigil

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Turkish Riot police dispersed on Saturday a peaceful vigil in Istanbul by human rights activists and relatives of victims of enforced disappearances, Amnesty International said.

Police arrested the head of the Human Rights Association, Öztürk Türkdoğan, prominent human rights lawyer, and Eren Keskin, in addition to relatives of those forcibly disappeared.

This is the 900th Saturday mothers/people in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square.

The Saturday mothers have been taking place for 27 years and “have tirelessly sought truth and justice for their loved ones who were forcibly disappeared in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe.

“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,” she added.

The deputy director signaled the repeated merciless crackdowns practiced by the Turkish police on Saturday mothers against those who participate in peaceful vigils, stressing that “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.”

The deputy director called on the Turkish authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained” for the mere reason of exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful 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,” the deputy director concluded.

Reporting by Farzand Hussein