On the occasion of the 8th of March, the International Women‘s Day, we want to draw your attention to the fate of 8 Women from Turkey.
8 Women, deprived of their rights.
8 Women, representing all women in Turkey, facing violence.
A YOUNG JOURNALIST IS HARASSED DURING THE POLICE INTERROGATION
Aysenur Parildak was a young journalist and law student. She was arrested in June ,2016, at the Law Department of Ankara University, to which she went for her final exam. She was accused of being a terrorist only because she worked for the newspaper ‘Zaman’, which was shut down by the AKP government, and for criticising the government on her social media accounts. She was sexually harassed by a drunken police officer during the interrogation. She has been in the Sincan Prison in Turkey’s capital for 3.5 years.
Aysenur was in solitary confinement in the first months of her imprisonment. She was not allowed to have contact with anybody. She did not even have the right to write letters. She was later permitted to spend an hour in the yard. She told about her isolation and solitary confinement during the trial on 2nd May, 2017: ‘The doors are shut down upon me every evening. Do you know how many times I have tied knots in the laundry rope and untied them?’
Aysenur was 26 years old when she was sent to prison. She has been celebrating her birthdays alone for three years. She is going to celebrate her 30th birthday alone in the prison again on 3rd April, 2020.
A TEACHER SENT TO DEATH IN PRISON
Halime Gulsu, an English teacher, was one of the 1,334 sick prisoners in Turkey’s jails. She had been a systematic lupus patient since her childhood, when she was sent to prison on 20th February, 2018. Her illness had been in remission after years of treatment. However, she was still on medication. She had a relapse when she was deprived of her medication for two months, from the day she was arrested until the day she passed away on 28th April, 2018. She wrote many petitions and marked them “urgent” in order to go to the infirmary. None of them received a reply.
In the letter she sent to BIMER (the petitions centre at the Prime Ministry) four days before her death, she wrote, ‘My illness is fatal. My medication is not being provided. The guards are accusing me of lying and scolding me.’ Her family sued those responsible, but the prosecution covered this up. Her two cellmates, who witnessed her last days, reported that she had not been able to go to the bathroom by herself.
A MOTHER FIGHTING ALONE FOR JUSTICE
All the military schools were shut down in Turkey after 15th July. 329 cadets were given life sentences in May, 2018, due to accusations that they had participated in the failed coup attempt. They were denied the right to a fair trial. None of the witnesses was heard during the trials/ hearings, which lasted two years. It was proven by the ballistics reports that the cadets did not shoot even one bullet on that night, but the decision was not changed.
They were all young people of 19 years of age. Their families chose to be silent for a while, since they thought this terrible mistake would be rectified. Most of the mothers still have this same opinion. Primary school graduate Melek Cetinkaya is a woman, who is fighting against this injustice alone. She went out onto the streets in Ankara and made her voice heard at the risk of being arrested. She gave interviews to many local and international media outlets.
On 19th January, 2010, she started a ‘walk of justice’ to the Silivri Prison, where her son and the other cadets have been kept. The walk was planned to last ten days, but she was forced to stop on the third day. She stayed under police custody on the first two days, and then she was released. She was arrested in front of her home on the third day by the counter-terrorism unit. She was taken into police custody again for three days.
A WOMAN WHO REVEALED THE TORTURE OF HER HUSBAND
Mumine Acikkollu has been fighting relentlessly against the injustice in Turkey for the last three years, thus risking her own safety. She managed to find out how her husband died on 5th August, 2016, in a six square meter cell in Istanbul Police Head Quarters, where he had been kept for 13 days. She also proved how her husband had been tortured by presenting evidence, such as camera footage, documents and witness accounts.
She later decided to leave the country, since she and her children were in danger in Turkey. She is living in a country in Europe now and trying very hard to see the day when the police officers, who killed her husband by using torture, will be prosecuted.
A MOTHER WHO LOST HER CHILDREN IN THE AEGEAN SEA
Fatma Ayhan Işık, with her husband, were both judges who were discharged in the witch hunt in Turkey, and, with their two children, they decided to flee the country, since they didn’t see a future in Turkey. They were aware of the danger of the escape route, but there was no alternative in Turkey. On the 27th September, 2019, their boat capsized off the shores of Chios, an island in the Aegean Sea, and their two sons, Mahir – 4 Months old — and Ibrahim — 3 years old, drowned.
Fatma Işık was first discharged from her duties, and then arrested after July 15th, 2016. She was 6.5 months pregnant when she went to jail on October 9th, 2016. When she was in prison, she wrote a letter to the journalist, Emin Çölaşan, and said: “I am 27 weeks pregnant. We are going to the hospital in iron handcuffs. To hear from the Doctor that my son is in good health is enough for me! I can`t ask his weight, or his height. I experienced this whole process with my unborn baby. We are 14 Women Judges and Prosecutors in the Prison Cell.
There were three other families with Fatma Ayhan Işık on the boat which capsized. Other families who survived the accident told their stories to the press. Only Fatma Işık and her husband, Nazir Işık, were silent. Their children`s tomb is on a hill on Chios, and their pictures, on the front of these little tombs, is a symbol of the bankruptcy of humanity in Turkey.
A WOMEN AND A DAUNTLESS HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST WANTS HER JOB BACK
Acun Karadag is one of almost 130.000 civil servants who have been discharged during the State of Emergency in Turkey. Contrary to the thousands who are forced to be silent due to the purge and subsequent oppression, she made her search for justice vocal and visible by starting a protest campaign.
She initiated an “I want my job back” protest action in front of her old school. The National Education Ministry issued an order, in which it forbade other teachers to show any solidarity with Acun Karadag. However, her action was a spark, and several other victims started “I want my job back” protests across the country.
When the families who supported her in front of the school were threatened, she relocated her protest campaign. She became ill and has since undergone heart surgery during the time that she has been protesting. She is still protesting. “The government wants us to starve. That’s why we started a hunger strike” was her motivation, as she started her hunger strike.
A LIFE-LONG STRUGGLE TO ENSURE THAT THE VICTIMS ARE NOT FORGOTTEN
Ikbal Eren is the sister of Hayrettin Eren who, after being arrested on the 21st November, 1980, was ‘disappeared’ by force. Unfortunately, enforced disappearances are a well-known fact and they are a reality that is still occurring in today`s Turkey.
“Saturday Mothers“ gather every week for the victims of enforced disappearances in Turkey. Ikbal Eren is one of the founding participants of the “Saturday Mothers“, and one of the bold human rights activists in Turkey. Eren, who stated that the state is trying to make these losses forgotten ones, describes her motivation as being “to remember and to ensure that it doesn’t get forgotten “:
“The more alive we keep our memories, the stronger we build on the foundations. In the tradition of the State, truths are always covered up. The State`s policy is built so as to ensure that this human rights violation should be forgotten. If you forget, you’ll accept it. So, if you forget with time, your future will be built on lies and not on the truth. We protest and sit there every week in order to remember, and not to forget, our lost beloved ones. We pass this understanding on to the public, as a reality that should never be forgotten, and with the main goal of preventing enforced disappearances in the future. “
A YOUNG WOMAN WHO IS A VICTIM OF SYSTEMATIC TORTURE IN TURKEY
Ayten Ozturk was unlawfully handed over to the Turkish authorities after being detained at a Lebanon Airport on March 8, 2018. Ayten Öztürk was taken to Ankara on a private plane and disappeared for six months. None of her friends or family members were able to locate her.
Ayten Ozturk, who was tortured at a secret center in Ankara during this time, was handed over to the police after 6 months. Ayten Ozturk, who now has difficulty in walking and suffers from physical disabilities due to the torture she underwent, appeared before a judge a year later, and told the court about the tortures she experienced for 6 months.
Ayten Öztürk isone of the symbolic names in torture victims, torture which has become increasingly common and systematic in Turkey, and she is still fighting for justice. Ayten Ozturk, has made criminal charges against the Lebanese Government and against the Turkish government officials who tortured her for 6 months, believes that torture can only be prevented by exposing the perpetrators.