Jailed cadets’ mothers detained in Turkish capital prior to “Justice March” protest

Turkish police detained at least 20 people who were about to march in protest in Ankara against the life sentence convictions of military academy students.

According to the Gazete Duvar news portal police also blockaded a pro-Kurdish lawmaker who was trying to support the marchers.

Dozens of people gathered at Guven Park in Ankara’s Kizilay Square were prevented by police from staging the “Justice March” which was organized by Melek Cetinkaya, the mother of Furkan Talha Cetinkaya.

Her son, a 19-year-old military academy student, was arrested following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and sentenced to life in prison, together with other 259 students.

A total of 187, out of 259 students, have been so far sentenced to life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in the 2016 coup that targeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

According to EuroNews’ Turkish service, Melek Cetinkaya was arrested as soon as she stepped out of the metro station in the square.

“I am a heartsick mother. You [the Turkish courts] have handed life sentences to 19-year-old Turkish Military Academy cadets. We [the mothers] had stayed silent [against the crackdown] for three-and-half years. However, you cannot silence us anymore. [One day] the justice will come to this country,” said Cetinkaya, speaking shortly to the news channel before her police questioning.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker and activist, was kept under police blockade while the others were being detained.

The MP claimed that he was also unlawfully subjected to police violence, showing his coat tattered allegedly by police.

“The protest organized by Melek Cetinkaya was halted [by police]. People were detained while they were [just] standing [waiting for the start of the march],’’ said at the scene, surrounded by the riot police.

In addition to some other mothers and acquaintances, Journalist Busra Taskiran was also taken into custody. The journalist tweeted a video showing police violence during the detention in a police vehicle.

Taskiran claimed that she was arrested as she had filmed Cetinkaya grappling with police who were attempting to detain her.

The detainees were reportedly released following the police questionings.

Last week, Cetinkaya had announced the march on her Twitter account, saying it was aimed at supporting the victims of the coup, including the military academy students sentenced to life as well as imprisoned pregnant, women, children, and sacked civil servants.

Cetinkaya, together with other cadets’ mothers, have been subjected to harsh police interventions that saw the mothers beaten and briefly detained every time they have tried to protest.

The mothers have repeatedly stated that they had to look for justice in the streets as they were kicked out of every governmental institution where they had applied to make their voices heard.

The mothers claim that the court, which sentenced their children to life in prison, disregarded all the evidence proving that those military school students had not participated in the coup bid.

The cadets had been accused of being members of the Gulen movement that is claimed by the AKP government to have orchestrated 2016’s coup attempt.

Erdogan’s AKP also designates the movement, led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, as a terrorist organization. Gulen and his followers strongly deny the accusations.

The Turkish state has detained or arrested some 77,000 people while prosecuting more than 511,000 over suspected links to the movement since the putsch bid.

More than 125,000 academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, officials, businessmen, artists, and journalists were purged over their suspected connection with the attempted coup through decrees issued by the AKP government.

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