Zeycan Yedigöl, a Saturday Mother who searched for her missing son Nurettin Yedigöl for 39 years, has died at the age of 98. She was laid to rest in Erzincan where she was born.
Zeycan Yedigöl had last participated in a Saturday Mother’s event on 11 April 2015, via a letter she sent. She was a a key figure in the struggle for revealing the fates of missing persons who were disappeared under custody. The initiative was launched on 27 May 1995 by four families.
Her son Nurettin Yedigöl was detained on 10 April 1981 in İstanbul and then was disappeared. Yedigöl searched for her son for 39 years and constantly sought to bring the perpetrators to justice. During that struggle she met with then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Dolmabahçe Palace in 2011.
Talking about her mother, Zeycan’s daughter Sevim Demir said, “She has never accepted injustice”. Demir related that her mother often said “I wish I could find my Nurettin’s shoes or socks”. Demir said that the family still hoped to find Nurettin’s grave. “I cut a piece of my mother’s hair and preserved it in case we find my brother and it is needed for a DNA test”.
She also said that her mother frequently spoke Nurettin’s name. “My mother gasped her life out saying ‘My son’. She died in disappointment”. But Demir said the search for justice will continue: “We will not pull out of this case just because my mother and father died”.
Who are the Saturday Mothers ?
The Saturday Mothers began their sit-in protests in order to find their missing (“disappeared”) relatives, following incidents that occurred in the Gazi neighbourhood of İstanbul in 1995. The first Saturday Mothers’ sit-in took place in front of Galatasaray High School, located on the İstiklal street of the Beyoğlu district of İstanbul on 27 May 1995. Initially launched by a small group, the movement has grown over 25 years and turned into symbolic struggle for human rights defenders.
Since that time, the Saturday Mothers have gathered to peacefully protest the disappearances of their relatives and loved ones every week. According to a report by Bianet, mothers suspended their activities due to increased oppression in 1999. They began to launch the sit-ins again after 2009.