Turkey: ICJ alerts European Commissioner for Human Rights to protest ban against mothers of disappeared persons

The ICJ wrote today to the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, to request action against the decision by Turkish authorities to ban entrance to Galatasaray square in Istanbul (Turkey) to a collective of mothers of disappeared persons called “Saturday Mothers”.

On 25 August 2018 , the Sub-Governorship of Beyoğlu District of İstanbul announced the prohibition of gatherings for assembly of any type of demonstrations in Galatasaray Square in Istanbul, the square where the Saturday Mothers have gathered every Saturday since 1995 to 1998 and since 2009 until 2018.

On the 700th week of their peaceful protests, the Saturday Mothers and their supporters congregated in Galatasaray Square at midday to once again raise awareness of the need for those responsible to be held accountable for the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances following their time in State custody in the 1990s. The police used tear gas to stop the protest and arrested 47 people. All were released by Saturday evening.

Senior officers of the Turkish authorities have even issued statements accusing the Saturday Mothers of being abused by or in collusion with terrorist organisations.

The ICJ wrote to the European Commissioner for Human Rights, that it “considers this situation to be at odds with Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular of the right to peaceful assembly under article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The ICJ further added that “given the consistent record and presence of the Saturday Mothers in Galatasaray Square throughout the years, it is hard to see how the restriction on their right to peaceful assembly could in any way be necessary and proportionate to a legitimate purpose. It is clear that no prior warning for the gathering was needed for security reasons in light of its regular occurrence at least since its resumption in 2009, i.e. nine years ago. Furthermore, the demonstration took place on a pedestrian area where cars are not allowed.”

ICJ-Letter-SaturdayMothers-CoEComm-Turkey-2018-ENG (download the letter)

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