At their 307th gathering, the Saturday Mothers expressed their concern that the recently established parliamentary Sub-Commission on the Investigation of Unsolved Murders will not be effective as long as it is not joined by independents members.
The Saturday mothers gather every single Saturday on Galatasaray Square in central Istanbul to draw attention to the fate of their relatives who disappeared and were killed for political reasons.
Last Saturday's session was organized by the Commission against Disappearances in Custody Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD). About 200 human rights defenders and relatives of the disappeared attended the protest action.
Every week, the relatives of the disappeared address the government with their questions and carry signs that feature the picture and the name of the person they lost. A banner read "The perpetrators are known, where are the disappeared" and the protestors demanded the prosecution of the ones responsible for the disappearances.
A few of the relatives had a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week and appreciated the establishing of the sub-commission, saying that even though it was a small step, it was an important one. Others indicated that their expectations had not been fulfilled: "Instead of coming to us he called us to see him. What can you expect from people who impose a publication ban on Mutki anyways".
Mutki is a district of the Kurdish-majority city of Bitlis in south-eastern Turkey. According to official numbers, 15 bodies were found buried in a waste dump of the gendarmerie this January.
Serpil Taşkaya read out a press release on behalf of the İHD Commission against Disappearances in Custody Istanbul Branch. Taşkaya lost her father Hüseyin Taşkaya in 1993. She announced the requests that were forwarded to the Prime Minister during the meeting in the Dolmabahçe Palace on the European banks of the Bosporus.
Taşkaya said that they demanded to assign independent people to the commission for the investigation of disappearances established in the Turkish Parliament last week. She also urged the government to sign and implement the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and requested to investigate mass graves in accordance with scientific principles.
Moreover, the statement criticized the governments for not assuming responsibility by saying "It did not happen during our time" and pointed to the rule of "continuity of the state".
Taşkaya conveyed the claim for concrete solutions to concrete demands.
"We do not accept to make a distinction between our sorrows. Justice is the joint expectation of all of us. We expect total reconcilement and a cross party approach regarding the parliament's disclosing of the fate of our disappeared relatives and the prosecution of the perpetrators. It is our most basic concern that politics are not being made upon our grief. We do not want compassion, we want justice", Taşkaya argued. (EG/EÖ/VK)
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