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Saturday Mothers

Cumartesi Anneleri/İnsanları

(Saturday Mothers/People)

Saturday Mothers/People is a human rights group, comprised of human rights defenders and families of victims of enforced disappearance in Turkey in the 1990s. They began organising weekly vigils at Galatasaray Square after the detention of Hasan Ocak on 21 March 1995 and the subsequent discovery of his tortured body in a common grave. Human rights defenders and the families of the victims gathered in Galatasaray Square for the first time on 27 May 1995, demanding an end to enforced disappearances, seeking information on the whereabouts of those who have disappeared and justice for the victims. The group decided to cease its weekly vigils on 13 March 1999 after they were increasingly targets of police attacks. The vigils resumed on 31 January 2009 following a ten year break. On 25 August 2018, the initiative marked its 700th week of protests. Saturday Mothers have been gathering in front of the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) İstanbul Office every Saturday to read out weekly press statements, since they were banned from staging weekly vigils at their original place, Galatasaray Square, in August 2018. According to data released by Truth Justice Memory Center, since the military coup on 12 September 1980 at least 1,352 people have been forcibly disappeared in Turkey. Among the 344 disappeared individuals for whom a complaint was lodged, the perpetrators were only convicted in 2 of those cases, a figure which has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.

turkey protest

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey have been subjected to judicial harassment, including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment. In the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, the environment for the work of HRDs deteriorated even further.