Turkey’s “Saturday mothers,” who have gathered every Saturday in Istanbul for nearly 15 years to draw attention to their missing family members, received the fifth International Hrant Dink Award on Sept. 15, which is named in honor of assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Serbian human rights activist Natasa Kandic, known for her documentation of her country’s war crimes, was also awarded by this year’s jury.
The Saturday Mothers have become familiar faces to those passing down İstiklal Avenue on Saturday mornings, as they have gathered for more than 400 consecutive weeks at Galatasaray Square with pictures of family members who went missing after being detained by security forces or who died in unsolved murders, especially in the dark days of the 1990s.
Every week, two or three relatives read a message or a poem for their loved ones, while anybody who wishes can take part in the demonstrations by holding a picture of one of the missing.
Hanım Tosun, İkbal Eren and Emine Ocak, who were among the pioneers of the demonstrations, received the prize during the ceremony on behalf of all Saturday Mothers. The three expressed hope that similar deaths or disappearances will not occur again.
For her part, Kandic said she was proud to receive such a meaningful prize in the memory of Dink. “Without empathy, there can be no peace, with our past and with others. The only condition of peace is empathy,” she said.
This year’s jury included past laureates such as sociologist İsmail Beşikçi and Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho, as well as British historian Timothy Garton Ash.