A group of Turkish mothers whose children were forcibly disappeared in the 1980s and 90s held a public vigil in Istanbul without police interference Saturday. This marks the first time the “Saturday Mothers” group has been allowed to proceed with such an event since police dispersed one of their demonstrations in 2018.The group’s vigils have persisted for nearly three decades, spanning almost 1,000 weeks. The mothers have sought accountability for their loved ones who were forcibly disappeared following arrests by security forces, but their efforts have been met with little success.In 2018, police forcibly dispersed one of the group’s vigils and would continue to prevent the group’s other attempts to stage demonstrations. But earlier this year, Türkiye’s Constitutional Court declared that the right of certain members to organize demonstrations had been violated.The group’s statement upon the protests’ resumption read:On #SaturdayMothers972Weeks, we made our statement and left our carnations in Galatasaray for the first time since the 700th week. We will not give up searching for Abdülkerim Yurtseven, Mikdat Özeken, Münür Sarıtaş and all our missing people and demanding that the perpetrators be tried and punished.According to a 2022 report from the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), enforced disappearance is used as a weapon of state suppression in Turkey. The OMCT said:[A]t least 1,352 people have disappeared since the military coup in 1980 in Turkey. Enforced disappearances in custody, unidentified murders and abductions are routinely used as ways to silence opposition. Human rights defenders and relatives of the disappeared are fighting against impunity and for the truth to be revealed.

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