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Emine Rezzan Karaman

Saturday Mothers’ Struggle to Find Justice at the European Court of Human Rights


This project examines the Saturday Mothers' struggle to find justice at the European Courts of Human Rights as their efforts remained unanswered in Turkey starting from September 12, 1980 coup d’etat. Military authorities abolished the parliament and encouraged the formation of a new constitution after the coup. They also combatted against oppositional organizations, activists, union members, students, academicians, Islamists and journalists. It was a period when unknown killing and enforced disappearance constituted a new form of violence in the country. The following decade turned into a more catastrophic period as the violation of human rights shaped everyday interactions. This violence became systematic in 1990s as conflicts between the Turkish army and PKK escalated dramatically. Escalating violence gradually delegitimized the rule of law in Turkey.


Accordingly, the failure of Turkish state to deal with human rights violations led the ECHR to make facilitating exceptions for the applicants from Turkey. Although this violence promoted a fear-society of silenced people in Turkey, some people did not remain quiet. The Saturday Mothers were among them. In 1995, they organized against the enforced disappearance of their beloved ones. This project analyzes their struggle for justice in Turkey and at the ECHR.

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