Turkey Attacks Saturday Mothers Seeking Truth & Justice

Emine Ocak manhandled by authorities Photo credit: Hayri Tunç

The Turkish governing party, the AKP and supporters always try, unsuccessfully, to blame the previous 'Kemalist' governments for crimes against the Kurds. This does not stand up to even the most minuscule amount of investigation as the 'Green Kemalists' (AKP) have in many ways gone even further than previous Turkish governments in their brutality against the Kurds and those seeking human rights in Turkey. It is often overlooked that perhaps 95% of so-called 'human rights' abuses in Turkey are mostly in relation to the denial of the Kurds their most basic rights. 

As it is with the Saturday Mothers. The Saturday Mothers were set up in response to the appalling levels of atrocities committed against the Kurds and their friends in the 1990s, during the so-called, 'Dirty War' when shadowy death squads operated by the Turkish state worked openly in what was the 'OHAL region' (State of Emergency region) or 'Kurdistan'! Thousands of Kurdish activists were simply openly extra-judicially killed with a gunshot to the back of the head and usually heavily tortured beforehand. People were thrown out of helicopters, thrown into vats of acid, cut up into pieces, buried alive and many other forms of gruesome torture before being killed and buried in a mass grave or field or orchard in a quiet place. 

Thousands of Kurdish villages were burnt to the ground during this period and systematic, horrific crimes against humanity were systematically meted out to Kurdish villagers who left their villages and towns after the Turkish army burnt them to the ground. 

The mothers of those who suffered or were killed during that period and after gather in the Galatasaray district of Istanbul for half an hour every Saturday with pictures of their loved ones who were so brutally killed, seeking information of their whereabouts and justice. Keeping their memories and cases alive. 

On Saturday the 25th August there was to be the 700th week of the protest that has been compared to the mothers who sought justice for their loved ones killed during the reign of the fascist dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet and which has taken direct inspiration from the Plaza de Mayo mothers whose sons and daughters were disappeared during the Argentinian military junta. A call for solidarity went out asking for groups to gather in all parts of the world in solidarity with the Saturday Mothers and to mark their heroic and determined campaign. 

On the morning of the vigil in Istanbul, it was clear that the Turkish authorities were determined to crush this vigil and high pressurised water and tear gas were unleashed upon the Saturday Mothers.  The public figurehead of the Saturday Mothers, Emine Ocak was grabbed and the 82-year-old woman who uses sticks to walk was dragged down the street while others were left to suffer the blows from truncheons and plastic bullets fired at close range by Erdoğan's militias who, dressed in civilian clothes, now seem to have an open licence to act as fascist bully boys against even elderly citizens of Turkey.

Nothing could more graphically represent what Turkey has now become under the dictator Erdoğan than the image of an elderly woman on sticks being roughly dragged down the street by the Turkish police. A woman who has peacefully and quietly sat in dignity for over 20 years seeking justice for the brutal torture and murder of her son. 

And for many, memories of the nineties returned in a flash. 

But if that disturbing image represented everything that was now morally bankrupt about the AKP regime in Turkey, another image was caught of HDP MPs, Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian, men and women, protecting Arat, the son of Armenian assassinated journalist and writer Hrant Dink, from being detained by Erdoğan's militias.

Almost biblical in appearance it pointed to hope for the future when hope for the future is so desperately needed.

A hope for the future where the unity of those who are opposed to fascism may be able to organise an effective resistance against it. 

Arat Dink supported by HDP MPs at Saturday Mothers vigil

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