PEN Turkey Duygu Asena Award goes to Saturday Mothers

Since 1995, mothers of hundreds of "lost" progressive youngsters had been meeting in Istanbul every Saturday -till, when the number of silent gatherings reached 700 in October 2018, the authorities put an end to their peaceful meetings.  Since the silent 'sitting' protests with photos in Galatasaray on the Istiklal Street near the Taksim Square is no longer possible, each Saturday a symbolic press release is announced in front of the Human Rights Association in that district, repeating the same rightful demand: "The Saturday Mothers" ("Cumartesi Anneleri" in Turkish) expect official information about their children who were "lost" under custody.

PEN Turkey Centre has given this year's women's rights award, which is named after the late feminist writer and journalist Duygu Asena, to Saturday Mothers. The PEN Award Ceremony was held in relation to March 8th, Women's Day.

The award was given to a significant part of today’s women’s rights movement. “Their losses are our losses, their suffering is our suffering. We present this award to them with respect and admiration.”

PEN Turkey President Zeynep Oral presented the PEN Duygu Asena Award award to Mrs. Emine Ocak, who received it in the name of the Saturday Mothers.

And here are excerpts from the award-receiving statement by the “Saturday Mothers”:

For us mothers whose children have been “lost”,  it is encouraging to receive this PEN Award named after a leading feminist author such as Duygu Asena. We are thankful to the jury -Board of PEN Turkey Centre. We are part of the women’s movement that has been struggling against the growing male domination; contrary to the assault and attempt of depowering us, we voice our mourning, protest and demand in public sphere.

We are among the subjects of the fearless rights movement since Antigone. “Saturday Mothers” has been an act of memory. It is the embodiment of demand for justice for our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and lovers. Love. Dedication. Patience and perseverence. Such feelings are beyond personal emotions; they have become part of our social existence, thus a political stand opposing oppression...

We embrace Duygu Asena’s approach: “Fear not, for you can do it as long as you refuse to accept that sense of captivity.” Thus we re-emphasise in the face of the oppressors: “We are not scared of your darkness; we’ll succeed in reaching truth and justice.”