ISTANBUL (New York Times) — The Turkish police forcefully dispersed a group of activists, some of them women in their 80s, over the weekend, breaking up a regular vigil in Istanbul to protest the forced disappearances of hundreds of people.
The group, known as the Saturday Mothers, was to hold its 700th meeting on Saturday, August 25, to demand justice for those who disappeared after a military coup in 1980 and in the ensuing fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey. The police used tear gas to stop the protest and arrested 47 people. All were released by Saturday evening.
Among them was Emine Ocak, who is said to be older than 80. She has attended the vigils regularly since her son Hasan disappeared in 1995. His tortured body was eventually found, but his killers have never been identified.
On Saturday, her arrest caused an uproar among the protesters.
“We went to the police bus to take her back,” said Sezgin Tanrikulu, an opposition lawmaker who had joined the sit-in. “Her daughter went behind her. They got Ocak off the bus, but took her daughter into custody.”
“The police detained people by beating them, though they were just sitting,”Tanrikulu said. “They were neither resisting the police, nor disobeying the law of gatherings and rallies.”