Saturday Mothers 700th Week:
We shall not forget, we shall not forgive, we shall not give up
The Human Rights Association (İHD) would like to express once again that we have not forgotten the forcibly disappeared persons on the occasion of the 700th Saturday Mothers’/People’s sit-in that was initiated on May 27, 1995.
This peaceful resistance that we, as the families of those whose existence was denied after having been detained by security forces in Turkey and from whom no word was heard again and as human rights defenders, initiated demanding “to find the disappeared and to restore justice” is in its 700th week today.
As the families of the disappeared and human rights defenders, we have been staging the longest running protest in Turkey for 700 weeks each Saturday at 12:00 pm in Galatasaray Square by carrying the photographs of hundreds of our people who were forcibly disappeared under custody. The Saturday Mothers/People sit-ins have also been held in such various locations as Diyarbakır, Batman, Urfa, Cizre et al. within the years.
For 700 weeks, we have been demanding to know what happened to our people whose existence was denied after they were detained and to witness the punishment of those who forced them to disappear following a fair trial process.
The state, however, has not enabled a judicial system so far that would reveal the fates of those who were forcibly disappeared while under custody and render the trial of those who were responsible for such disappearances, which constitute a crime against humanity, before courts possible.
The failure to establish judicial bodies that would control the power of the state, protect the rights and freedoms of citizens has given way to the fact that our demands remained unreciprocated and to the violation of our right to know the truth and access to justice as well.
İHD’s demands about the forcibly disappeared are loud and clear:
- The fates and whereabouts of the forcibly disappeared should be revealed,
- The perpetrators and those responsible should be held accountable before the courts,
- The state should acknowledge its liability in the offence of enforced disappearance under custody,
- Impunity that protects the perpetrators and those responsible for the offence of disappearance under custody should be brought to an end; justice must be served,
- Legal reforms that will enable the regulation, prevention, and punishment of the act of enforced disappearance under custody as a crime against humanity should be put into effect so that no one will ever disappear under custody,
- Turkey should sign, ratify, and enter into force the United Nations’ “International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance,”
- Turkey should become a party to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.
These demands that we have been expressing, notably in Galatasaray, for 700 weeks are legitimate rights based on the fundamental values of a democratic society, constitutional norms of Turkey, and international law.
The major obstacle before the realization of these demands is the lack of a political will in Turkey that will be based on rule of law. The fact that governments have adopted policies to rule out human rights, independence of the judiciary, and rule of law has rendered it impossible for us to achieve truth and justice so far.
While the governments have been willing to drag the society into indifference and silence through implementing policies of denial, repression, and violence; we have been reminding people of faith against crestfallenness, hope against hopelessness, resistance against repression, and truth against denial for 700 weeks. We have been saying out loud in our silence that there was no room for hopelessness, fear, and crestfallenness; that these were the first steps of losing.
This is the reason why Saturday Mothers/People have been staging sit-ins in Galatasaray for 700 weeks saying “My wait has not come to an end, my yearning has not grown less, my hope has not been abandoned, my faith has not been lost, my resistance has not subsided, my incarnation has not withered.”
We would like to remind you on the occasion of our 700th week that the covering up of truth in offences committed by security forces, the protection of the perpetrators of such offences behind a shield of impunity does not only constitute a problem for victims but also is a fundamental law, democracy, and human rights problem. The policy of the state that refuses to acknowledge the truth, implements impunity by elevating the perpetrators above rule of law is erecting a barricade on the path to democracy, rule of law, and peace in the country. Putting up a struggle to overcome this barricade is a civic duty.
We would like to call on the public once more on the occasion of our 700th week to be sensitive about the offence of enforced disappearance under custody that has been widespread in Turkey and has been subjected to impunity to date. We call on everyone to assume the responsibility of not being indifferent to this offence that targets human dignity and put an end to impunity.
We declare once more on the occasion of our 700th week:
We, who have been struggling to end enforced disappearances under custody, shall persevere in our struggle in the name of truth, justice, conscience, and human dignity!
We shall not forget our lost ones!
We shall not give up seeking our people who were forcibly disappeared under custody!
We shall be the victors of this struggle that we have been putting up empowered by hope, resistance, and legitimacy!
We reiterate our 700-week-old demand: Find the disappeared, hold the perpetrators accountable before the courts!
Our demand for justice shall persevere until justice is served.
Human Rights Association