20 people detained as police use tear gas to disperse Saturday Mothers' vigil in Istanbul


Riot police detained more than 20 people and used tear gas to disperse dozens of others who defied a ban on a planned sit-in in Istanbul on Saturday, Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet reported.

The families of those forcibly disappeared in Turkey – a group known as "Saturday Mothers" – have been gathering every Saturday since May, 1995, for a symbolic vigil in central Istanbul's Beyoglu district. This week marked the 700th such vigil.

Mothers and relatives marched early on Saturday to Galatasaray, holding photos of their lost loved ones. Some members of parliament from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) also joined the march.

Beyoglu's district chief banned this week's vigil citing the lack of an official permission as well as the alleged terrorism ties of organisers. He said the vigil was called for by "social media accounts sponsored by PKK terrorist organisation," a reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Police closed off the area leading to Galatasaray with armoured water cannon and pushed protestors into side streets, as some shouted "Down with Fascism," according to a video posted by Cumhuriyet.  

One of the longest-running peaceful vigils in Turkey, Saturday Mothers demand justice for relatives who either went missing or were murdered following the military coup in 1980 and during the state of emergency in early 1990s, particularly in the predominantly Kurdish south-east.    (dpa)

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