Women who honor the memory of their relatives who disappeared without a trace in the years 1980 and 1990 organized a vigil yesterday Saturday in Istanbul, which was not broken up by the authorities.

About ten women took part in the rally, which was not attended by police for the first time in five years.

Known as “Saturday Mothers” (Cumartesi Anneleri in Turkish), they have been meeting on Saturdays since May 27, 1995 in the heart of Istanbul to remember their relatives who disappeared, at the hands of the state as they complain, during one of the most turbulent periods of modern Turkey.

In 2018, police violently cracked down on their demonstration after authorities banned it because calls to the rally were made by social media accounts linked to Kurdish activists, whom Ankara and its Western allies label “terrorists”.

Most of the disappearances occurred at the height of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) push for autonomy in southeastern Turkey, home to most of the Kurdish minority.

The country has been wracked by political instability and violence for years following a 1980 military coup that was followed by countless arrests.

Activists emphasize that the state never proceeded with thorough investigations into the fate of the people who disappeared after being arrested by the authorities.

Saturday Mothers was unable to hold demonstrations from 1999 to 2009 due to repeated Turkish police crackdowns, but has since resumed, although the security services closely monitor all of its activities.