Saturday Mothers gather in Istanbul for 777th week of protests

Saturday Mothers, a group that has gathered weekly since the 1980s to silently protest political assassinations and state-forced disappearances in Turkey, convened for the 777th week in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. 

Turkey's longest-running non-violent protest group were joined by officials from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair Eren Keskin, Republican People's Party (CHP) Provincial President Candan Kaftancıoğlu and artist Pınar Aydınlar, Bianet news site reported.

Protesters wore t-shirts with photographs of the missing family members and carried carnations, it said. 

"We are not quarrellers, we are not defendants, but we are plaintiffs. We are the voices of our lost and blindfolded mothers," Bianet quoted Hanife Yıldız, mother of one victim, as saying.

The primary aims of Turkey’s Saturday Mothers include locating the bodies of those who disappeared during the 80s and 90s and holding those responsible to account.

This Saturday’s focus was on Rıdvan Karakoç, who has been missing since 1995. 

The family of the 34-year old Kurdish political activist continue to seek information on the whereabouts of Karakoç despite no information from police, Bianet said. 

The family believes Karakoç was murdered at the hands of the Turkish police.

Rıdvan’s younger brother Hasan, happened to discover a folder of photographs of Rıdvan tortured to death while in police custody, Bianet said.

"I was tortured for 15 days in the Gayrettepe police office. The police threatened to kill us,’’ Hasan said. 

"They followed my brother and opened fire. They saw my brother as an enemy in this country. We were treated as enemies,’’ he added.

According to the IHD, which helps the families of those who have disappeared in Turkey and is the leading supporter of Saturday Mothers, the number of confirmed missing persons in Turkey is 800.