"If you want to act in line with rule of law, you should explain what happened to the hundreds of people who went missing under detention and try those responsible," said Hurriyet Sener, Istanbul chair of the Human Rights Association (IHD), in his call to the government.
Relatives of those who went missing, including Hanim Tosun, Emine Ocak and Hasan Karakoc, and human rights activists, gathered in front of the Galatasaray High School on Istiklal Street at 1 p.m. on May 17, Day for Struggling against disappearances. The crowd demanded a world without disappearances under detention.
Missing Hasan Ocak was found dead
The Saturday Mothers/People used to sit in front of Galatasaray High School every Saturday at 12 p.m between 1995 and 1999.
They demanded that there are no more missing people, wanted to know what happened to those missing, and asked that those responsible are tried.
During the last seven months of their weekly vigils in 1998 and 1999, security forces intimidated and attacked the protestors. They had to spend at least Saturday nights under detention.
The Saturday protests began when Emine Ocak's son Hasan Ocak was detained on March 21, 1995 and was found dead at a cemetery 55 days later. He was killed as a result of torture.
During those days, Hasan Karakoc's brother Ridvan Karakoc disappeared and was found dead. He had been tortured too.
The longest civilian disobedience
Saturday mothers/people had staged what was the longest civilian disobedience in Turkey and had made the local and international community aware of the problem of going missing under detention.
The Saturday protests won awards and musicians made songs for these protests, which got support from many other countries. According to the date from the IHD, as a result of the Saturday protests, the number of incidents where a detained person when missing decreased. Such incidents eventually ended.
"If we had not staged these protests, more people would probably go missing and get killed," said Hasan Karakoc.
According to the date provided by Sener, these are the numbers of those who went missing under detention:
4 people disappeared under detention in 1991, 8 people in 1992, 36 in 1993, and 229 in 1994. After May 27, 1995, when the Saturday protests began, the number of those who went missing under detention started to decrease.
The impact of "Saturdays"
121 people went missing under detention in 1995, 68 in 1996, 45 in 1997 and 9 in 1998. Only two detainees went missing in 2001 and one in 2002.
Hanim Tosun's husband Fehmi Tosun was pushed into a car and kidnapped in front of his house in Avcilar in October 1995.
"Now is the time for our legal fight," said Hanim Tosun. "Most of us have won our cases at the European Court of Human Rights. But we want the government to find those responsible and hold them accountable in front the court".
Sener reminded the words of "confessor - Jitem" Abdulkadir Aygan, which were published by the daily "Gundem" (Agenda) newspaper.
"Legal circles are still insensitive to the issue," said Sener. (BA/EA/YE)