On November 24, 2012, the Saturday Mothers organized their 400th sit-in protest in their usual spot. After the Saturday Mothers initiated their first sit-in protest in 1995, the number of people showing solidarity with the mothers’ struggle and demands for justice increased each year. The campaign carried out prior to 700th gathering, which was banned by the Beyoğlu Governorate, reached to record levels of mass mobilisation. The visuals with hashtag #BeniBulAnne (Find me mother) were widely circulated on social media and calls for gathering were widely covered in press as we’ve seen unprecedented levels of participation to the banned event.
The mothers’ struggle for justice was a reaction to state terror that targeted politically active segments of society. The state’s response to these families’ demands at first was silence. However, as the social and political support for their cause grew, security forces began to police their protests, using violence on many occasions, even in recent times. Nevertheless, in recent years, after many years of silence, the Turkish government has at least begun to listen to the grievances of the Mothers. First, in April 2011 some of the mothers had the opportunity to speak before the Human Rights Research Commission of the Turkish Parliament. Although this political body does not have the power to initiate a trial of the perpetrators, it makes victims’ voices accessible to all of Turkey through the mass media. Second, in February 2011, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to talk with the representatives of Saturday Mothers and listen to their stories of suffering and their demands for justice. Although the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is the first party to take the time to hear the grievances and demands of the Saturday Mothers, in the end, the only result was information about the cases of two people whose mothers were at the meeting with the prime minister. The information did not even include the whereabouts of the remains, but only the information that they had been killed. While they may increase public awareness of state terror against politically active segments of society, such discussions are unlikely to lead to trials of the perpetrators.