Saturday Mothers, a group who have been organising weekly vigils to demand justice for the victims of forced disappearances in Turkey since the mid 1990s, gathered on Saturday in Istanbul to raise the case of three villagers who were arrested, shot and later burned 27 years ago.
Abdulkerim Yurtseven, Mikdat Özeken and 13-year-old Münür Sarıtaş were brutally arrested by the Turkish military during an operation in a village in the south-eastern province of Hakkari in 1995.
However, when families went to the military headquarters to ask for their relatives, they were told that nobody was under custody. The families kept on receiving similar statements from authorities responding to applications to ask the whereabouts of the three villagers.
The case was later brought to court, and according to official recordings, the three villagers were beaten by soldiers led by Major Mehmet Emin Yurdakul. Yurtseven lost his life due to the injuries he suffered, while the two remaining villagers were shot and then burned over fears that they could become witnesses in a potential investigation into Yurtsever’s death.
Despite witness statements and confessions, the suspects who were accused of killing the three villagers were released by the court in 1999. The case was later brought to the European Court of Human Rights and Turkey paid compensation for failing to effectively investigate the case.