Hayriye Doğan, a Kurdish mother who struggled for almost 30 years to find her disappeared sons, passed away recently.
Hayriye was an active member of the peace mothers’ movement, demanding peace in the face of a war inflamed by the state’s oppression of the Kurdish people, mostly in the form of extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and the forced evacuation of villages.
One of her sons, Fahrettin Doğan, joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 1988. Then her sons Mehmet Ali and Abdülkadir disappeared. She was informed of the death first of Fahrettin in 1997, then of Abdülkadir in 1998.
She never heard from Mehmet Ali again after the day he disappeared. “Maybe he’s alive,” she once said in an interview.
She was buried in a grave beside her son Fahrettin.
Her daughter, Gülistan Doğan, spoke to JinNews about her mother’s struggles, expressing the suffering she had been through in her mother’s own words: “My heart is a mountain, it can withstand anything.”
Relating that her mother had raised all her children all alone, Gülistan Doğan said that she had even built the house they lived in. “I was born in that house. She used to tell us how she’d built it,” she said.
“She was very strong. She always stood straight and tall. They called her ‘head of the village’ in the neighbourhood. Everyone respected her. Everyone came to her whenever they had a problem. She started to seek her sons. As she tried to reach them, her heart got bigger. ‘One day I’ll die seeking my sons’ she started saying. She spent her whole life looking for them. She never even found the bones of two of them. She managed to obtain the body of one of her sons, and she took some comfort in that.”
Indicating that her mother had longed to find her sons to the very end and never stopped looking for them, Gülistan told how she responded to people when they asked her how she endured the pain:
“My mother responded saying, ‘My heart is a mountain. It can withstand anything.'”