Turkish Mothers March From Ankara to Istanbul in Quest For Justice For Cadets Serving Life in Prison

It is now on the shoulders of a group of mothers to overcome the wall of fear to demand justice for their sons — cadets who serve a life sentence after the 2016 coup.

Abdullah Ayasun

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Melek Cetinkaya launched a march from Ankara to Istanbul to command public attention to the plight of cadets who are serving life sentences over the 2016 coup. (Photo: DW)

Melek Cetinkaya, the mother of Furkan Talha Cetinkaya, did everything to make a compelling case for her son who was wronged by his commanders and courts. In the face of deafening public silence about the plight of cadets majority of whom serve life sentence over the dubious charges of coup plotting, the mother strove to spark a public stand in Turkey’s suffocated climate of the post-coup era. Talha was one of the cadets who were arrested and sentenced to life for the 2016 coup.

After unsuccessfully seeking justice at courtrooms, the mother has eventually appealed to the court of public opinion through a series of TV interviews and sit-in protests in Ankara. But her and a bunch of volunteers’ enthusiastic efforts gained little traction. Dismayed but never resigned, the mother on Monday launched a march from Ankara to Istanbul in her latest effort to tilt public conscience.

The first attempt was broken up by Ankara police who detained attendants after they convened at the starting point in the almost militarized Guven Park in the downtown of the Turkish capital on Sunday. When lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu strolled around the park to make a public statement on Periscope, he found himself in the middle of an army of anti-riot police officers.

Cetinkaya has become the new public face of civil disobedience and cadets’ long-suppressed struggle to obtain justice amid a myriad of odds and…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun