For the last 800th weeks, Saturday Mothers/People have been asking the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones disappeared in custody in Turkey. Demanding justice for their relatives, they have been prevented from holding their weekly sit-ins in Galatasaray, İstanbul since the 700th week.
Accordingly, Saturday Mothers/People and Human Rights Association (İHD) İstanbul Branch’s Commission against Enforced Disappearance made a joint statement on July 25, stressing that the government is silencing people’s search for justice, rather than taking a step for the disappeared.
On the other side, the police did not allow Saturday Mothers/People to place carnations on Galatasaray Square and detained some relatives of the enforced disappeared. They have been released after medical check.
Reading out their statement for the in front of nearby İHD İstanbul Branch in Beyoğlu, they have once again stressed that they will give up on neither Galatasaray Square nor their quest for the truth and justice.
The full statement is as follows:
‘We have been insistently asking for 800 weeks’
“As the families of people whose existence was denied after being detained by the state’s security forces and whose fate and whereabouts have been unknown since then and as human rights defenders, we have been mounting a peaceful resistance for 800 weeks and demanding that ‘the enforced disappeared be found and justice be served.’
In a land where the Constitution, the rule of law, human rights, judicial independence and justice are nothing more than mere names, we have been waging a struggle for the truth and justice despite all pressures for 800 weeks. We have been insistently asking for 800 weeks:
What happened to our loved ones who were disappeared in custody?
Why are the ones who made them disappear protected by trampling upon all rules of the law?
What is the reason for the failure to take files on enforced disappeared to justice despite all evidence, witness statements and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) convictions?
Why is our right to access the truth and justice hindered?
Why doesn’t Turkey sign the United Nation’s International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance? Why doesn’t Turkey approve and enforce the convention?
Instead of answering these questions of ours, the government wants to silence us with pressure and violence by abusing its power.
As a matter of fact, the first thing done after the Presidential Government System entered into force on June 24, 2018 was to close Galatasaray, the place hosting our peaceful gatherings for 699 weeks, to our demand for the truth and justice. Just to prevent us from entering the square, Galatasaray is now blockaded 24/7 by Anti-Riot Water Cannon Vehicles, detention vehicles, barriers and heavily armed police officers.
While Galatasaray Square, which is the site of our peaceful gatherings safeguarded by the Constitution and the international conventions that Turkey is a party to, is regarded as a “crime scene”, the use of our legitimate rights based on Turkey’s Constitutional standards and provisions of international law is deemed “terrorist activities.”
In our 800th week, we are asking the ones who rule the country, especially Erdoğan: Is Constitution still in force in Turkey?
If yes, the Constitution recognizes the right to hold meetings and demonstrations as a fundamental Constitutional right and says, “Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission.”
While the provision of the Constitution is so obvious and clear, why is Galatasaray banned to us? Why is it considered a crime that needs to be suppressed with heavy weapons when we want to use our right to announce our demand for justice to the public?
In our 800th week, we are repeating once again:
That Galatasaray Square, which hosted our peaceful gatherings, has been banned to us with police violence for 101 weeks, is a serious attack against our Constitutional rights and freedoms. It means that the state is violating the Constitution and abusing its power, which is an offense. The society should not be a party to this crime by staying silent.
We are declaring once again in our 800th week: We are determined; we will lay claim to our rights and freedoms that make us humans.
We will not stay silent until Turkey becomes a democratic state of law where no one is disappeared in custody and where denial and impunity are no more. We will keep on searching for the truth and justice till the last disappeared is found and the last perpetrator is put on trial.
We will never give up on our disappeared loved ones or on Galatasaray, which is our meeting place with our losses.”