The Turkish police forcefully dispersed a group of activists, some of them women in their 80s, over the weekend, breaking up a regular vigil in Istanbul to protest the forced disappearances of hundreds of people.
The group, known as the Saturday Mothers, was to hold its 700th meeting on Saturday to demand justice for those who disappeared after a military coup in 1980 and in the ensuing fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey. The police used tear gas to stop the protest and arrested 47 people. All were released by Saturday evening.
Among them was Emine Ocak, who is said to be older than 80. She has attended the vigils regularly since her son Hasan disappeared in 1995. His tortured body was eventually found, but his killers have never been identified. The Saturday Mothers have gathered for a weekly sit-in at Galatasaray Square in central Istanbul since 1995, with occasional breaks because of political pressure. The group is said to have been inspired by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who held regular protests to learn the fates of those who disappeared during Argentina’s military dictatorship. Hundreds of Turks are believed to have disappeared while in police custody in the 1980s and ’90s, when the country’s conflict with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or P.K.K., was at its peak.
The Saturday Mothers seek the bodies or the burial sites of their loved ones and the prosecution of perpetrators. This image was made in 2010 while on assignment for @geomagazin @viiphoto #kurds #turkey #edkashi