Saturday Mothers bid farewell to Nana Berfo
A memorial service was held on Friday for Nana Berfo in İstanbul’s Galatasaray Square. (Photo: Today’s Zaman, Mehmet Yaman)
The Saturday Mothers, an advocacy group which used to gather every Saturday in İstanbul's Galatasaray Square to raise awareness of their missing relatives, came together in the square on Friday to bid farewell to Berfo Kırbayır, who died on Thursday at the age of 105 after spending much of her life trying to find her son, who was killed after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état.
Kırbayır, known as Nana Berfo, became a public figure in 2011 when she appealed to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to help her find out more about the fate of her son Cemil. The 24-year-old man had been missing since he was detained by the gendarmerie in 1980. The elderly woman said she had not left her village for many years in the hope that one day her son would return. An investigation later revealed that Cemil Kırbayır was killed by the gendarmerie after being tortured in custody.
The Saturday Mothers organized a funeral for Nana Berfo, who became a symbolic name for families of people who have disappeared while in police or gendarmerie custody.
Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-chairpersons Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, former Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) head Ufuk Uras, Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç and BDP deputy Akın Birdal also attended the funeral.
Speaking at the funeral, Nana Berfo's son Mikail Kırbayır said his mother's last words before she died were, “Do not bury me before you find my son's remains.”
After the memorial service, a funeral prayer was held for Kırbayır at the Şakirin Mosque. She will be buried in the village of Okçu, located in Ardahan's Göle district.
Berfo Kırbayır also became a co-plaintiff in the ongoing trial against retired Gen. Kenan Evren, who served as Turkey's seventh president after the coup, and former Air Forces commander retired Gen. Tahsin Şahinkaya, also one of the main perpetrators of the coup. She even attended a hearing to which she was brought in an ambulance. Evren and Şahinkaya were absent during the trial, citing health reasons.
Cemil Kırbayır, a member of the left-wing Revolutionary Path (Dev-Yol) organization, was detained on Sept. 13, 1980, at the family's home in Göle. He died on Oct. 8. His body was never found, despite the many years the Kırbayır family has spent searching.