‘Saturday Mothers’ gather for 696th time in İstanbul to demand justice for disappeared children

Turkey’s “Saturday Mothers” gathered at İstanbul’s Galatasaray Square for the 696th week demanding justice and truth for their disappeared children.

This week’s gathering was dedicated to Süleyman Cihan, who disappeared in custody on July 29, 1981.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), lawyer Gülseren Yoleri, the chair of the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) İstanbul branch, told the story of Cihan, who was 31, a father of two and was living in İstanbul when he disappeared.

“Cihan had been taken into custody, testified to by many witnesses. After an 85-day search it was learned that Cihan had been killed under torture and buried in the backyard of the prison, as an unknown person,” Yoleri said.

Yolseri reminded that a false document was signed by police officers stating that Cihan had committed suicide by jumping from the sixth floor of the building where he had been taken for interrogation.

In fact, he was tortured for several months according to the statements of many witnesses. Having died as a result of the heavy torture, his “suicide” was staged, but his body was thrown from the sixth floor of the building after he had already died.

Yoleri said Cihan’s family applied to the Kadıköy Chief Public Prosecutor in 2012 to reopen the file. Reminding that Cihan’s parents died without getting justice for their son, Yoleri stated that after 37 years the search for justice and truth is continuing.

Meanwhile, the İHD Diyarbakır branch and relatives of the disappeared people organized their weekly sit-in at the Koşuyolu Park Life Memorial Monument. It was the 494th sit-in to demand justice and truth for the disappeared people.

Raci Bilici, İHD deputy co-chair, İHD Diyarbakır branch executives, relatives of the disappeared people and human rights activists joined the gathering. This week’s action was dedicated to Nihat Aydoğan, whose life tragically changed when he was taken into custody on November 20, 1994.

Abdullah Zeytun, the chair of the İHD’s Diyarbakır branch, reiterated the demand for justice and the truth. “As advocates of the right to life, we know that the search for truth and justice will never stop, no matter the circumstances. The current political situation makes this search difficult, but our struggle will continue,” said Zeytun.

Aydoğan disappeared after being detained in 1994. His story was told by Hasan Yalçın, a lawyer and member of the İHD Diyarbakır branch Disappeared People Commission. Yalçın said soldiers and village guards under the Midyat District Gendarmerie headquarters raided Aydoğan’s house on a November morning in 1994 at 5 a.m.

“Twenty to 30 soldiers and village guards entered the house and took Aydoğan from his bed and beat him up in front of his children. They blindfolded Aydoğan and tied his hands. Aydoğan’s daughter, aged 12, refused to speak after witnessing this violence.”

Yalçın stated that Aydoğan was subjected to all kinds of torture and inhumane treatment at the Mardin Central Gendarmerie Command for 15 days. “After 15 days, the gendarmes made Aydoğan call his village representative and say, ‘They are letting me go, I am coming home.’ However, nobody heard from him again after the call. Halime Aydoğan, Nihat’s wife, upon receiving no news from her husband, went to the Mardin Gendarmerie Central Command and asked about him.”

She was told that he had been released and that he had probably gone to the mountain, so she should ask there. Halime Aydoğan wrote to the Midyat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as a last resort to learn the fate of her husband. But the prosecutor’s office gave her no answers.”

Yalçın said Halime Aydoğan and her young children received no help. “On the contrary, after a while, the villagers told Halime Aydoğan that she and her children should leave.”

According to information provided by Yalçın, Halime Aydoğan went and settled with relatives in İstanbul, but didn’t give up searching for her husband. Nihat Aydoğan was 32 when he disappeared in custody. Twenty-four years have passed, and no news has been learned about his fate.

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