25 years of Saturday Mothers: With carnations against the police

Twenty-five years ago, the Saturday Mothers first went to Galatasaray High School in Istanbul to demand clarification of the fate of their disappeared relatives. Today they threw carnations over the police bars in the closed square.

On May 27, 1995, the Saturday Mothers sat down for the first time in front of the Galatasaray High School on the busy Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul to demand clarification of the fate of their relatives who had "disappeared" after their arrest by state forces and to demand punishment of the perpetrators. They have since repeated this demand 792 times every week. Since the 700th week, they have been denied access to Galatasaray Square by the Turkish authorities, so their weekly rallies are held in a small side street in front of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD), and since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, their actions have only been held online.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the Saturday Mothers tried once again today to move to their ancestral place on Istiklal Avenue to make a statement. They were supported by the Istanbul IHD branch chair Gülseren Yoleri. However, the square had already been cordoned off in advance with police bars, and the women were forbidden to enter. The women and their supporters then threw carnations over the barrier and expressed in slogans that they would not stop searching for their missing relatives.

Maside Ocak, whose brother Hasan Ocak disappeared after his arrest on 21 March 1995 and whose body was later buried in an anonymous grave, gave a short speech in which she stressed that the struggle of the Saturday Mothers continues.

Hasan Karakoç, whose brother Ridvan Karakoç disappeared in 1994 and who was also buried anonymously, made a similar statement. "We spent our youth in this square. We come here so that no more people disappear after arrest. We've been doing that for a quarter of a century. Even if a thousand years pass, this struggle will not be given up. It is a disgrace to this country. Thousands of people have been brutally murdered. Now their grandchildren are fighting for them.”

Archive image, date unknown