Saturday Mothers met in Istanbul for the 724th week

The Saturday Mothers met for the 724th time in Istanbul despite police obstruction.

The Saturday Mothers have been demanding justice and the truth for their relatives disappeared while in custody of State’s forces.

This Saturday, the action was joined by HDP deputies Huda Kaya, Oya Ersoy, Musa Piroglu, CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrikulu, CHP Beyoglu Mayor Candidate Alper Taş, actor Nur Sürer and many political parties and civil society organisations.

Activists carrying the photographs of those who disappeared in custody listened to Hasan Ocak's sister, Maside Ocak who read this week’ statement.

They want to prevent us from reaching the public opinion

Reminding that the Saturday Mothers’ peaceful action has been obstructed and forbidden by police for 25 weeks, despite the guarantees expressed in Turkey’s Constitution and International Conventions, Maside Ocak said: “For 25 weeks now we are forced to hold our press conference in a small place, here in front of the IHD building. The police are confining us here, because they want to completely isolate us from the community. Early Saturday morning, the IHD and surrounding streets were closed by heavily armed police. This frightening action aims at preventing people from joining our action and at denying our right to talk to the public opinion, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Once again, for the 724th week we are here to demand justice and the persecution of the responsible of the disappearances.”

Ocak underlined the double standard showed by the Turkish government when it calls on the UN to investigate the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, murdered in the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul.

The story of Maltu

This week the story of Mehmet Şirin Maltu, who disappeared 24 years ago, was told. 

Mehmet Şirin Maltu was 17 and lived in the Zediya hamlet in Kozluk, Batman. On the night of 31 January 1995, security forces, including soldiers, special teams and village guards, broke into the home of the Maltu family with the help of a panzer.

The soldiers carried out identity checks and took Mehmet Şirin Maltu out. Until 4 in the morning all the houses in the village could hear the screams of Mehmet Şirin Maltu, who was tortured in the open field. Then they took Şirin away.

The next day around 12 pm four vehicles brought back to the village Şirin; his hands and feet tied, a sack on his head. He was beaten for hours by the soldiers in the open air. His family and villagers heard the soldiers repeatedly asking him to indicate them a place, but he would just say “I don’t know”.

The soldiers then took Mehmet Şirin Maltu who could not stand because of the torture away.

The family applied to Bekirhan and Kozluk gendarmerie station, but were told that their child were not in custody. A person who was detained in the Batman Commando Battalion told the Maltu family that he had seen Mehmet Şirin in the battalion and that they had been held under detention together for six days.

The family then applied to the prosecutor's office and was asked to bring the witness, but the witness did not testify because of the heavy pressure on him.

No news was heard about Mehmet Şirin Maltu again.

I’ll keep searching till my last breath

After the story was told a letter by Sabriye Maltu, the mother of Mehmet Şirin Maltu who could not take part in the action due to health problems was read.

Mother Maltu said that Mehmet Şirin Maltu was the youngest of her four children.

"I held my son for the first time three months after I had lost my husband in a car accident. I raised my children without father and he was 17 years old when they took him from me. The soldiers beat my son in front of me and my neighbors until the morning in the cold of the night. Then they took Mehmet Şirin away. Everywhere I went, I was given the same answer. I've been living in the hope of getting news from my son for 24 years. I have wished for a grave for 24 years. I want those who did this to Mehmet Şirin to be punished. I am old and ill, but I won’t give up searching.”

Nobody should disappear at the hands of the State

Hasan Karakoç, brother of Rıdvan Karakoç, who lost his life in custody, pointed out that in this country, children who were not even 18 have disappeared while in custody.

Karakoç said: “We've been screaming for 24 years. What a 17-year-old boy can do to this state! A grave is everyone's right. That's all mothers are asking for. They want their child to have a grave where they can pray and leave flowers. The security forces of the state detain people with their official uniforms and official weapons and cars. They disappeared in front of hundreds of villagers, but no investigation is made. It is the state's first duty to uncover the truth about what happened to these people. This country does not deserve this tyranny.”