The Saturday Mothers, a group of activists and relatives seeking to learn the fate of loved ones who disappeared while in police custody in Turkey in the 1990s, prepared a protest with QR codes to mark Aug. 30, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Bianet news website reported.
First gathering on May 27, 1995 in Galatasaray Square on İstanbul’s İstiklal Street and continuing to meet there every Saturday for a silent protest since then, the Saturday Mothers has staged the longest-running protest Turkey has ever witnessed.
According to Turkish media reports, the group prepared QR code stickers that when scanned, reveal the stories of 31 individuals who were forcibly disappeared in İstanbul between 1936 and 1995, posting them at various points in the city, especially in Galatasaray Square and its vicinity.
Information about the 31 people can be accessed on the Saturday Mothers website.
The group’s vigils, which saw the participation of larger numbers of people on landmark dates such as the 500th and 600th week, had been held peacefully without any restrictions by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government until the 700th week in 2018, when dozens of protestors were detained after police broke up the protest.
The trial of the 46 people who were detained during the 700th gathering and are facing charges of “participating in unlawful meetings and marches and refusing to disperse despite warnings and the use of force” is ongoing.
The Constitutional Court ruled on Nov. 16, 2022 that the police intervention in the 700th-week vigil was a violation of the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration.
Since the 700th gathering, the group has been holding their demonstrations in front of the Human Rights Organization’s (İHD) İstanbul office.