The Saturday Mothers (Cumartesi Anneleri) is a group who gathers 12pm every Saturday for half an hour at Galatasaray (district), Istanbul (Turkey), holding photographs of their "lost" loved ones. Mainly composed of mothers of victims, and renowned as a model of civil disobedience, they combine silent sit-in with communal vigil as their method of protest against the forced disappearances and political murders in Turkey during the military coup-era of 1980s and the OHAL-era of 1990s. On October 25, 2014, they held their 500th sit-in protest.
"I started to cry after I started participating in the Saturday Mothers; before, I was crying in solitude, I could not express my suffering." (a "Saturday mother")
According to the Human Rights Association, between 1992 and 1996, 792 state-forced disappearances and murders have been reported in the east of Turkey, with many more missing persons who remain unreported (see also, OHAL).
Reportedly influenced by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, their first sit-in was on May 27, 1995. After facing violent police attacks almost every week, on March 13, 1999, they were forced to halt their protest following a particularly harsh series of attacks by the police and the resulting trauma in the participants. They resumed their protests on January 31, 2009. Currently, the group that started with about 30 people has thousands of participants. On August 25th, 2018, Turkish authorities announced that the governorship has banned the gathering event. Following the announcement, in their 700th peaceful protest, Saturday Mothers were faced with police violence and several of the participants were detained .
Their main demands include:
- to raise awareness of state-sponsored violence, militarization, and militarism in Turkey,
- the state documents archives to be opened up for public review in order for state-sponsored political murders to be brought to light,
- changes to the Turkish penal code to be made in order to remove the statute of limitation on political murders and forced disappearances,
- Turkey to sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
- “Holding Up the Photograph” Experiences of the Women Whose Husbands Were Forcibly Disappeared
- Unspoken truth: Enforced disappearances (PDF)
- Enforced Disappearances and the Conduct of the Judiciary
- Ladies in White
- Mothers of Khavaran
- Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
- Mourning Mothers (Mothers of Laleh Park)
- List of peace activists
- Gülsüm Baydar and Berfin İvegen. 2006. "Territories, Identities, and Thresholds: The Saturday Mothers Phenomenon in İstanbul". Signs, 31, 3, pp. 689-715.
- B. Dağtaş and E. Dağtaş. 2007. "Sivil İtaatsizlik Örneği Olarak 'Cumartesi Anneleri' ('Saturday Mothers' as a Model of Civil Disoberdience)". Kültür ve İletişim.
- "'C’était très drôle, une poignée de femmes, des centaines de policiers' : un entretien avec Ayşe Günaysu ('It was too absurd, a handful of women and hundreds of cops': An interview with Ayşe Günaysu)". Hypotheses. n.d. Accessed 18 September 2014.
- "Turkey - Saturday Mothers", AHRC, 1997. Accessed 18 September 2014.
- "The Saturday Mothers", Open Democracy, 4 December 2012. Accessed 18 September 2014.
- Ayfer Genç Yılmaz, 2014. "Toplumsal Hareketin Kalbinde Bir Yeni Özne: Anneler (A New Subject in the Heart of the Social Movement)", Marmara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilimler Dergisi (Marmara University Journal of Political Sciences), 2, 1, pp. 51-74. Accessed 18 September 2014.
- ""Saturday Mothers": Government Must Find Bodies of Disappeared". Bianet. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "Cumartesi Anneleri/İnsanları 14 Yıldır Kayıpları Soruyor (Saturday Mothers have been asking about the lost ones for 14 years". Bianet. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Kural, Beyza. "Birinin Kaybedilmesiyle Başlıyor Her Şey" ["It all starts with one forced disappearance"]. Bianet. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Günaysu, Ayşe. """Cumartesi" Nasıl Başladı, Neden Ara Verildi?" ("How did "Saturday" Mothers start, how was it temporarily halted")". Bianet. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- "Turkish authorities banned the gathering of "Saturday" Mothers in their 700th peaceful event". Diken. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
- "Savaşa Değil, Barışa Yatırım Yapın" ("Invest in Peace not War"), Bianet, 23 June 2012. Accessed 22 July 2012.
- "Susmak Kaybedenleri Cesaretlendirir, Susmayacağız!" ("Silence encourages those who lose, we will not keep silent!"), Bianet, 16 June 2012. Accessed 22 July 2012.
- "Hrant Dink Ödülü Cumartesi Anneleri ve Nataša Kandić’e gitti" ("Hrant Dink Award goes to the Saturday Mothers and Nataša Kandić"). Agos. 15 September 2013. Accessed 20 September 2013.