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TURKEY’S opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) filed a criminal complaint today against Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and the police after an attack on a demonstration in Istanbul last weekend.
The party submitted a petition to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office demanding that charges be brought against Mr Soylu and the city’s police for “wilful injury” during the protest by campaign group the Saturday Mothers.
Inspired by Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the Saturday Mothers have gathered in Galatasary Square in Istanbul every weekend since May 1995, in what is one of the world’s longest-running civil disobedience campaigns.
Last Saturday’s demonstration marked the 700th week of protests by the group, but Mr Soylu banned the gathering, claiming it was being exploited by “terrorist organisations.”
The Saturday Mothers are demanding justice for the thousands of people who disappeared in the wake of Turkey’s 1980 military coup, many of whom were arrested for their political activities.
Trade unionists, communists and other leftwingers were among those jailed, tortured and disappeared under the regime of General Kenan Evren.
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas on Saturday as thousands of protesters defied the ban and gathered under the slogan: “The perpetrators are known, so where are the vanished?”
Around 50 people are believed to have been arrested, including DISK-Journalists Union chairman Faruk Eren and members of the Istanbul Human Rights Association.
An image of police detaining 82-year-old Emine Ocak, captured by photographer Hayri Tunc, went viral across the world, showing the ugly face of Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A number of HDP MPs, including party co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli and MPs Ayhan Bilgen, Garo Paylan, Saruhan Oluc, Huda Kaya, Serpil Kemalbay and Ahmet Sik, were among those attacked by police as they tried to protect the demonstrators.
They filed the joint complaint accusing Mr Soylu and the police of responsibility for the violent attacks on the MPs and other peaceful protesters.
Ms Buldan, whose husband is one of the disappeared, said the fight of the Saturday Mothers was “the struggle of humankind.”
She vowed that the campaign would continue despite the attacks, accusing Mr Erdogan of creating “a country that is afraid of mothers’ silent cries. “
Ms Buldan added: “We have been looking for the bones of our children for 700 weeks. We will continue our fight until we find the bones of our children. Even if I’m alone, I will always sit in that square.”
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