Turkey bans 'terror exploited' weekly mothers' protest

Turkey bans 'terror exploited' weekly mothers' protest
Turkey's interior minister defended the decision to break up a mothers' protest this weekend, saying that it has been exploited by a 'terror group'.
2 min read
27 August, 2018
Hundreds of mothers gather every Saturday for the protests [Getty]
Turkey has banned a weekly protest staged by mothers of civilians disappeared during the 1980s and 1990s, on the grounds that it has been exploited by a terror group, said the interior minister on Monday.

Turkish police broke up a vigil in Istanbul on Saturday - held almost every weekend since the mid-90s - and arrested activists, as mothers remembered sons and daughters disappeared during a military crackdown 20 years ago.

Tear gas and water cannon were used to disperse vigil in Istanbul, which is organised by mothers of mostly Kurdish men and women who disappeared during Turkish military sweeps in the 1980s and 1990s.

Almost 50 people were detained, including veteran Saturday Mothers' protest leader Emine Ocak, who is reportedly aged 82.

"We didn't let them (protest) because we want an end to this exploitation and deceit," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

"Should we have turned a blind eye to motherhood being abused by a terror organisation?" he added.

Since May 1995, hundreds of mothers have gathered in Istanbul every Saturday - bar for a ten year freeze - to remember the mostly the disappeared, allegedly at the hands of Turkish state security.

The disappearances happened during the turbulent decades after the 1980 military coup, which coincided with an insurgency in Kurdish areas of Turkey.

Ankara claims the protest was organised by social media accounts linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and that no official application for the gathering was made.

Activists say the state has never properly investigated the fate of those who disappeared after being detained by the authorities.

The rally's forceful dispersion came two months after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as premier in 2003, won an outright victory in 24 June polls.

The Saturday Mothers' group is said to have been inspired by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of Argentinian mothers who hold rallies after their children disappeared during Argentina's military dictatorship.