“Mothers away from Motherland” Panel Discussion

“Mothers Away from Motherland”, Motherʼs Day panel organized by “Set Them Free”and “Atlantic Institute”, had a spotlight on the current situation of Turkish women incarcerated in prisons in Turkey – many with their children – without indictments while embracing the stories of all mothers around the world who have had to find safety for their children away from their homelands.

Beside the three panelists from different communities a video call with a Turkish refugee mom in Greece took place within the event. She talked about her experiences and also about another refugee mom who passed away two weeks ago leaving three kids behind. Set Them Free Atlanta Coordinator Hafsa Girdap told the audience that they would dedicate the program to the memory of that young mom, Esma Uludag.


It was also moving to bring an InterPlay activity offered by Christine Nichols Gautreaux and Ruth Schowaltar at the end of the shared stories of the refugee mothers.

Sophia Pandya, the moderator of the panel, gave a presentation about the impact of political turmoils on women. She also drew attention to the fact that more women suffer in wars or in conflict zones than men do.

Here are some highlights from the panelists:

Karenina Campos from Peru: “If it wasnʼt for my mum we could not manage to succeed in a new life here.”

Saadia Mohamed Kelli from Syria:

“I did everything for my children to have good education here and this idea empowered me the most.” “I always said to my children not to get scared of these people here, and just to be nice.”

Zubeyde Katar from Turkey (about her children who are still in Turkey): “I miss them a lot.” “We are not terrorists, we have always done whatever we could for the sake of humanity.”

Birgul Koca (a Turkish refugee in Greece): “I am a mother and while struggling with the biggest challenges it was my children and most importantly my fate what has strengthened me the most!”

The program finished with a calligraphy performance by a refugee mother.

**“Emin Demiral, Set Them Free Atlanta Art Director, interviewing Sophia Pandya and Lee Dehihns”

What if you were in my shoes?

“What if You were in My Shoes?”

On April 14, 2018 Set Them Free organized a photo exhibition “What if You Were in My Shoes”, in Atlanta Central Library with the partnership with the Atlantic Institute. The exhibition, whose art director is Emin Demiral, aims to raise awareness on the tragic forced-migration stories from Turkey. More than 50 photos, of which the background stories are written by formerly detained women, are displayed along with an introductory video.

Hafsa Yildiz, Set Them Free Atlanta Coordinator, stated that “Besides the 9,700 women, who are arbitrarily detained, the current situation reveals a disturbing pattern of human rights abuses against innocent children in Turkey and abroad.” Yildiz also added that “Hundreds of women, allegedly linked to the failed coup attempt, suffer from disproportionate discrimination, in particular for the equal access to political participation, health, education, employment and justice, both in law and practice.” Ms. Yildiz ended her speech with a call to take an action for the most vulnerable victims of the aforesaid persecution.

Dr. Katy Reaves, a visitor to the exhibition, wrote “I would like to say something about a photo here which I will never forget. It was horrible. A woman just gives birth, she has a low blood pressure but the police ignores all these and takes her to the jail separating her from the baby. Could you imagine that? It is very tragic.”

The exhibition will take place in some other venues around Europe as well as the United States in the following days.