Turkey’s Saturday Mothers have been demanding justice for 850 weeks, since the mid 1990s.
The first Saturday Mothers’ sit-in took place in front of Galatasaray High School, located on İstiklal street in Beyoğlu, İstanbul, on 27 May 1995. Initially launched by a small group, the movement has grown over 20 years and turned into a symbolic struggle for human rights defenders.
Since that time, the Saturday Mothers have gathered to peacefully once a week protest about the disappearances of their relatives by the state. This journey of longing for so many years has never been easy for them. They had to suspend their activities in 1999 due to increased oppression, but relaunched the sit-ins after 2009.
On 25 August 2018, on the 700th week of their search for justice, they once more faced police brutality. They wanted to go to Galatasaray Square but they were prevented by the police, many of them being beaten or detained.
The second hearing of the Saturday Mothers following the detentions that day will be held on 12 July.
Saturday Mothers called for support at their trial saying, “We are on trial for opposing crimes committed against humanity.”
One of the symbols of the Saturday Mothers’ action is Hasan Ocak who was arrested on 21 March 1995 and tortured to death. Hasan Ocak’s mother Emine Ocak and his niece Dilcan Acer repeated their demand for justice on behalf of his grandchildren.
Ikbal Eren, sister of Hayrettin Eren who disappeared in custody on 21 November 1980, read out the press release, called for people to attend the hearing and reiterated that they would not give up on Galatasaray Square.
What happened to Fethi Yıldırım?
The Human Rights Organisation (IHD) Diyarbakir (Amed) Branch and the relatives of the disappeared asked again about the fate of the Democracy Party (DEP) executive Fethi Yıldırım, who was detained by police in Wêranşar district of Urfa (Riha) on 4 January 1994. Although three other people detained with him were released a couple of hours later, Fethi Yıldırım has not been heard of since and his family has been asking about his fate for more that 25 years.
Mehmet Tahir Saçaklı, Member of the Board of Directors of İHD, read Yıldırım’s story and stated that the family had applied to the European Court of Human Rights, since they had not achieved justice in Turkey.