Melek Çetinkaya, the mother of one of the military cadets who were jailed in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016 and sentenced to life in prison, was prevented from launching a march for justice from Ankara to İstanbul on Sunday and was detained with 66 others who were to join her during the march, according to Turkish media reports.
Çetinkaya was going launch the “Justice March” in Ankara’s Güven Park to demand that justice be served in the cases of jailed military cadets who according to their testimonies were unaware of a coup attempt unfolding on the night of July 15, 2016 and were not involved in any acts of violence.
The coup attempt, which was suppressed overnight, claimed the lives of 249 people and injured a thousand others.
Çetinkaya and 66 other protestors, including the family members of other jailed cadets, were planning to walk from Güven Park to Silivri Prison in İstanbul, where the cadets are jailed.
Police teams took heightened security measures in Güven Park before the group gathered and began to detain them as they entered the park.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist and an opposition deputy, who was also in the area, said the protestors were detained even when they were just standing around.
Çetinkaya said she and the other protestors were beaten by the police while being detained. She said she was determined to make the march no matter what obstacles she faced.
“I am a mother who has pain in her heart. You gave life sentences to 19-year-old military cadets. We remained silent for three-and-a-half years. You won’t be able to silence us from now on. Justice will come to this country,” she said as she was being taken away in handcuffs.
She has been struggling to convince officials that former military cadets like her son had nothing to do with the coup attempt and has staged a number of protests in front of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in Ankara.
She told Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish service last week that the former cadets were brought to İstanbul on the night of the coup for an alleged terrorist attack, and that they had no idea about a military putsch.
A total of 259 ex-cadets who were on İstanbul’s Bosporus Bridge that night were sentenced to life in prison. That same night two other cadets were brutally murdered by an angry mob near the bridge.