Families of the victims of forced disapperances and human rights defenders were met with walls of flesh as they were surrounded by the police in the 900th gathering of Saturday Mothers in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday.
Prominent rights defenders including co-chairs of the Human Rights Association (IHD) of Turkey and co-chair of IHD’s Istanbul branch were arrested alongside leading figures of the movement against forced disappearances in the gathering at Galatasaray.
The press statement of Saturday Mothers was read out by Züleyha Gülüm, MP for the Peoples’ Democratic Party, despite attempts by the police to silence the group.
The statement read:
“We are the mothers, the children, the siblings, the grand children and the rights defenders who carry out the most peaceful and just struggle in the world. We are the ones who were born, grew up, aged in Galatasaray. We are the ones who, with the pictures of our beloved in our hands, ensure that they continue to live in Galatasaray, although their existence have been denied by the state.”
Gülüm read out the demands of Saturday Mothers:
Being informed of the fate that befell the victims who were forcibly disappeared whilst under custody;
Justice to be served against state officials who were involved in the crimes of forcible disappearances;
Reassurance by state authorities that nobody should ever again disappear in custody;
The United Nation’s ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance’ to be signed, ratified and implemented by Turkey.
Saturday Mothers have been demanding justice for the victims of forced disappearances for 900 weeks in Turkey, since the mid 1990s.
The first sit-in of Saturday Mothers’ was staged in front of Galatasaray High School, located on İstiklal street, Istanbul, on 27 May 1995.
Initially launched by a small group, the movement has eventually grown and turned into a struggle of great significance.
Although the groups sit-ins had to be suspended in 1999 due to increased oppression, they were relaunched in 2009.