In a historic moment of resilience and determination, the Saturday Mothers, who have been demanding justice for their loved ones disappeared or murdered by Turkish security or paramilitary forces, convened their 972nd weekly vigil in Galatasaray Square in Istanbul. This marks a significant breakthrough as their access to the square had been restricted for over five years.
In a statement on X (formerly Twitter) today, the group declared that their unwavering efforts to uphold the Constitutional Court’s ruling on human rights violations have achieved a significant milestone and their determination has finally paid off, allowing them to reconvene at Galatasaray Square, a location deeply symbolic to their cause. “Our persistent efforts to enforce the ruling of the Constitutional Court on the violation of rights have yielded results. We are back in Galatasaray Square,” they stated.
The group commemorated the disappearances of Abdülkerim Yurtseven, Mikdat Özeken and Münür Sarıtaş, three men who were last seen in the custody of Turkish security forces in the village of Ağaçlı, Hakkari, on 27 October 1995. The group’s spokeswoman, İkbal Eren, noted that these men are alleged to have been tortured before they disappeared. Although a Turkish court acquitted defendants in the case, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) later found Turkey guilty of violating the rights of the three who disappeared.
The vigil, a symbol of unwavering demand for justice, also saw the group vowing to continue their pursuit of justice for all victims of state-sponsored disappearances.
In related protests, families in Diyarbakir (Amed) and Batman (Êlih) called for action against those responsible for the disappearances of Ali Tekdağ and Ahmet Yetişen, both of whom went missing in 1994. Hatice Tekdağ, Ali’s wife, lamented that his only ‘crime’ was being Kurdish, while Hanifi Yetişen remembered his father Ahmet being taken away by security forces.
Simultaneously, branches of the Human Rights Association (İHD) in various Turkish cities expressed their solidarity, affirming support for the Saturday Mothers’ prolonged struggle for truth and justice. These statements called for the prosecution of those behind the disappearances and affirmed the right of the Saturday Mothers to continue their peaceful protests in Galatasaray Square.
Today’s vigil and related demonstrations across Turkey not only marked a pivotal moment for the Saturday Mothers but also underlined the ongoing quest for justice and accountability in cases of enforced disappearances.