Police Detains Mothers Protesting Turkish Cadets’ Anguish in Jail

In a dramatic turn of events, Turkish law enforcement brutally detained a group of mothers protesting their sons’ — cadets — anguish in prison where they serve a life sentence.

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Police detains Melek Cetinkaya in Ankara.

When, several weeks ago, the Turkish government gave a strong endorsement and publicity to a sit-in protest by a group of mothers in front of the regional office of the pro-Kurdish HDP in Diyarbakir to question their sons’ participation on mysterious grounds to PKK, it aimed to arouse a groundswell of public support against the militant organization’s widespread recruitment efforts in the region.

The sit-in protest by Kurdish mothers, who claim that their sons were forcefully kidnapped by the PKK to enlist them for its shrinking mountain manpower, has become a national matter, spurring swelling support for the mothers’ cause across the nation. By choosing the HDP’s office as the venue of protest, the ruling party also sought to discredit and vilify the Kurdish party in the eyes of the public by stressing the uncorroborated charge of direct affiliation between the PKK and the HDP.

But what the government did not anticipate was the unintended consequence that there were other mothers, who are seeking justice for their missing beloved ones and who demand justice for their sons as well. When they took inspiration from Diyarbakir mothers, they launched similar protests. They went to the offices of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul and Ankara to demand an answer to their plea.

But they faced a different kind of treatment at the hands of law enforcement and authorities as their quest exposed the moral hypocrisy of the politicians.

On Tuesday, a group of women, mothers of cadets who serve life sentence over the overblown charge of coup involvement, were detained by anti-riot police in Ankara. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrikulu expressed his dismay on Twitter, criticizing the detention of cadets’ mothers.

In Diyarbakir, the political implications of the mothers’ protest were conducive to the government’s own interest to undermine the public image of the HDP. But in Istanbul and Ankara, the government was spooked and irritated by mothers’ similar attempt at AKP offices, and tried in vain to differentiate the two cases.

Cadets’ situation remains a stain on the public conscience. While the entire people coalesce around the belief that cadets had no leading role and impact on the coup’s major contours, few people come out to publicly protest the life sentences handed to them.

Still, many politicians in the opposition and some among the government party admit that their sentence is too harsh and disproportionate. Yet, as Melek Cetinkaya laments, no one attempts to do anything to correct the miscarriage of justice. Their mothers tried everything possible and available in their disposal, to little effect. None of the authorities are swayed.

The media blackout is another source of a genuine grudge and understandable resentment among the families. Only Euronews Turkce and Deutsche Welle Turkce occasionally reported their lone struggle, while the majority of media outlets, national or foreign, did little more than a passing mention.

Written by

Virginia-based journalist and writer. Politics, culture, art, and technology. American political affairs, Turkey, the MidEast, and beyond. Twitter: @abyasun

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