The struggle of the Saturday Mothers

Featured image: poster of the call of solidarity actions with the Saturday Mothers in Basel, Switzerland. Source: Avrupa Haber.

On 1st of October, the Swiss Turkish Workers Federation, part of AGEB (Avrupa Göçmen Emekçiler Birliği – Union of Migrant Workers in Europe) call for solidarity actions in Basel, Switzerland for Saturday 7th of October for the Saturday Mothers and the repression they suffer from the old Turkish State. AGEB explains in the call: “Fascism continues to attack the “Saturday Mothers” who protest every Saturday to ask about the fate of their children, relatives and comrades who disappeared in custody and to punish those responsible . Let’s join the action to be held in Basel Claraplatz on October 7 in solidarity with the Saturday Mothers and expose fascism!”. The Turkish newspaper Yeni Demokrasi has been reporting week after week on the mobilizations and repression suffered by the Saturday Mothers.

Sit-in of the Saturday Mothers. Source: Centre for Women, Peace and Security.

The group of Saturday Mothers began their mobilizations on 27th of May of 1995, gathering in the Galatasaray Plaza in Istanbul, gathering about thirty people. This was years after a huge repressive wave began by the old Turkish State after a coup d’etat in 1980. According to some sources, the figures of forced disappeared people between 1980 and 2000 in Turkey would be of more than 1,300 people. Although organizations such as “Human Rights Association” count more than 17,500 forcefully disappeared people and unidentified political murders in Turkey.

Some of the first Saturday Mothers were relatives of these missing and killed. After this first mobilization, they began to gather every Saturday, and more relatives of missing people and activists were joining the mobilizations. When the group of Saturday Mothers began its activity, the old Turkish State was at the highest moment of its repressive wave, which is considered to be between 1993 and 1997.

Saturday Mothers suffered brutal police attacks between 1998 and 1999, and stopped rallies until 2009, and from that year the mobilizations have been resumed every Saturday. During these years the mobilizations have expanded to other cities such as Batman, Diyarbakır, Cizre, and Yüksekova. Repression has been something constant for this group of activists from the beginning of their activity. For years it has been common to see scenes of dozens of police surrounding the mobilizations, attacking the protesters and detaining the activists and protesters who support these women. We have reported earlier on this persecution against the Saturday Mothers.

Mobilization of the Saturday Mothers being attacked and surrounded by the Turkish police. Source: Twitter of Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

On 25th of August of 2018, the governor of the district of Beyoğlu forbade the mobilization and their access to Galatasaray Square. The Saturday Mothers and the activists who support them continued with the march, and were strongly repressed, having 47 detainees. These detainees were prosecuted under the Turkish law of “Meetings and Demonstrations”, being accused of “refusing to disperse despite being warned, and use of force”. The “justice” of the old Turkish State denied its subsequent acquittal. On the other hand, the Turkish Constitutional Court issued a clear sentence in 2019, and it was that it is illegal to forbid the mobilizations of the Saturday Mothers in the Galatasaray Square. But the their law is wet paper when it is against the interests of the ruling classes, and due to this, week after week these mobilizations remain forbidden and attacked.

The Saturday Mothers have received solidarity actions before, specially when the old Turkish State began its trial that we explained, in between 2018 and 2021. There were actions in London, United Kingdom, and Cologne, Germany. But the most important mobilizations were recently made in Turkey: in Dersim, where Turkish police arrested eight people and harshly repressed the demonstration, after forbidding it 24 hours before; in Adana the same happened at the beginning of August, when the police attacked a press release in solidarity with the Saturday Mothers, detaining a total of 18 people.

The struggle of Saturday Mothers has continued, and the solidarity with them also continues, and protests against the old Turkish State, which tries by all means to silence the people. Even so, the people remains in the struggle, and the Saturday Mothers return to the streets week after week.

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