Peace Mothers, who have been the symbol of the peace struggle in Turkey since the 1980s, continue to give their voice to the demands for peace so that no other mother should have to shed a tear for their children, as they did.
People came to hear the names from Peace Mothers after 12 September 1982 military coup, when the mothers were at the frontline to give voice to their children who had disappeared, or been imprisoned and tortured in the Diyarbakır (Amed) Military Prison, in which the majority of prisoners and detainees were Kurdish.
According to the list of “The Most Notorious Prisons in the World” that was prepared by Time Magazine in 2008, Diyarbakır Military Prison was ranked as the fourth most notorious prison in the world as it witnessed the most violent and systematic torture techniques in the first half of the 1980s.
Later on Peace Mothers were known for their determined struggle for the remains of their children who died in clashes between the Turkish state and the PKK.
Their cries have been heard in front of the Diyarbakır Prison for many years as they formed the Initiative of Peace Mothers in 1996. During their struggle for their children, Peace Mothers have been subjected to violence as they were detained, battered and even imprisoned over the years.
Peace mothers shared their stories with the Mesopotamia Agency.
Migrated from an evacuated village, two sons in prison
Nazmiye Yürek, a peace mother aged 60, has two sons in prison. One of her sons, Kenan has been imprisoned for 22 years, and her other son, Ertan, has been imprisoned for 9 years. Yürek had to migrate from her village in Diyarbakır’s Lice district when the village was burnt to the ground.
“We have faced with the brutality of the state. They burned down our homes. We were forced to migrate to the city centre and could never return to our village again.” Yürek said.
Yürek has been on the roads from one city to another in order to visit her sons in prison. “The same oppression and violence each time they came to take my children. One of my sons were sentenced to 37 years in prison. Amed, Siirt, Kırıkkale… He has ben transferred to so many prisons in so many cities. Where are international human rights. Why do they not let go of my son?” she said.
A mother whose son died fighting ISIS in Kobanê
Rahime Çelik, another peace mother aged 55, explained that she was subjected to forced displacement, when her village in Lice was evacuated. One of Çelik’s children died in Kobanê, a town near the Turkish-Syria border, when fighting against the attacks of ISIS.
“It was a hard life, our home was raided so many times even when my children were so little. Our hearts ache so badly as we feel our children, all the time. But at least we were able to embrace the deceased body of our children, some of the mothers could never have that chance. They do not even have a grave for their children. We ask for nothing, but peace. We have never take side of war and death,” she said
23 years dedicated to peace struggle
Gülistan Erek, aged 63, dedicated the 23 years of her life to the peace struggle. Her son was killed in a racist attack in Turkey’s Kırıkkale city where he was working.
“His killer was sent to prison, but with a short period of time to serve, because the one who was killed was a Kurd. Our children are either killed by security forces in the region or by racist attacks in Turkey. They always raid our homes, blaming us with terrorism. We are not terrorists,” Erek stated.
The last time Erek was detained was when she joined a protest against the trustee appointed to the Diyarbakır Municipality on 19 August 2019 by the Turkey’s government. Erek’s home was raided.
“Police asked me, ‘Look how old you are, what are you doing in protests?’ I do not commit a crime, I just demand peace. We say enough with arrests, detentions and death. All we want is peace,” she noted.