Saturday Mothers and human rights activists convened at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square, marking their 983rd weekly demonstration, as they continued to demand justice for Cemal Akar, who was abducted and killed 31 years ago while in custody.
Akar was taken into custody by the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism (JİTEM) on 25 January 1993.
The announcement, read by İHD Co-chair Eren Keskin, included the presence of Rahşan Anter, daughter of Kurdish intellectual Musa Anter, who was also assassinated by JİTEM in 1992. Keskin emphasised that their presence at Galatasaray Square aimed to remind the public of the unresolved fate of those who had disappeared in custody and to challenge the prevailing climate of impunity.
Eren Keskin reiterated their commitment to the struggle until the fate of the disappeared is revealed, and those responsible are brought to justice.
Cemal Akar, a secretary of the pro-Kurdish Freedom and Democracy Party (ÖZDEP) Erzincan province and a member of the Human Rights Association (İHD), was abducted as he disembarked from his workplace’s shuttle vehicle. Witnesses reported that he was seized by individuals displaying intelligence officer-like behaviour and driven away in a civilian-plated car. It was later revealed that Mahmut Yıldırım, codenamed “Yeşil” (Green) and associated with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) and JİTEM, was among the abductors.
Despite repeated inquiries by Cemal’s family to the Erzincan and Dersim Police Departments, they were consistently told that he had not been taken into custody. The Human Rights Association took steps to advocate for Akar’s case, but the state authorities did not exert significant efforts to protect his right to life or prevent his disappearance.
A month after his abduction, on 23 February 1993, Cemal Akar’s lifeless body was found in a severely tortured and gunshot-riddled condition near the Doğançık Village, belonging to Nazimiye on the Erzincan-Dersim road. His transportation from Erzincan to this remote location, passing through four security checkpoints along a 130 km road, raised questions about the involvement of individuals with official identities.
Four months after the incident, a news report published in the Özgür Gündem Newspaper on 24 June 1993, featured an account by an individual identified as E.H., who was detained at Nevşehir Prison. E.H. claimed that he had been confronted with Cemal Akar at the Erzincan Police Department and then transported to the Dersim Police Department. However, upon their return from a remote area, only E.H. was placed back in the vehicle, and he never saw Cemal Akar again.
Rather than conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations, the Tunceli Governorate chose to publish a denial in the same newspaper, avoiding any real inquiry into the matter.
The Cemal Akar case has become yet another link in the chain of impunity, with no effective investigation conducted. On the 31st anniversary of his disappearance, they once again call upon the judicial and political authorities to fulfil their responsibilities and ensure justice for Cemal Akar and all the other disappeared individuals.
No matter how many years pass, they remain unwavering in their pursuit of justice for Cemal Akar and all those who have disappeared.
Following the statement, flowers were placed at Galatasaray Square, surrounded by police barriers.
Meanwhile, relatives of the disappeared gathered in four other cities for individuals who were killed by Turkish security forces. These gatherings took place in Diyarbakır (Amed), İzmir, Hakkari (Colemêrg), and Batman (Êlih).
Members of the Diyarbakır branch of the İHD and relatives of the missing gathered in front of the Memorial for the Right to Life in Koşuyolu Park in Bağlar (Rezan) district. A banner with the inscription “Let the missing be found, let the perpetrators be brought to justice” was displayed, and relatives of the missing carried photographs of their loved ones. Civil society organisations and representatives of political parties also joined the protest.
In Batman, members of İHD and relatives of the missing gathered in front of the Human Rights Monument on Gülistan Avenue. Human rights activists, the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Batman Bar Association, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) officials participated in the protest.
İHD İzmir Branch held the protest with the same slogan, “Let the missing be found, let the perpetrators be brought to justice” in front of the former Sümerbank building in Konak. The fate of Serdar Tanış and Ebubekir Deniz, who went missing in Silopi, was questioned during the protest.
Members of the Hakkari branch of İHD and relatives of the missing gathered on Sanat Street in the town centre of Gever. Peace Mothers, DEM Party officials, and DBP representatives also participated in this protest. During the protest, the story of Enter Özdemir, who went missing on 5 May 1994, in Tiyarê village in Çukurca (Çelê), Hakkari, was read.