Nedim Türfent: Long live the snake who omits striking me.
Words fly by in my head. Meanwhile, I can barely put two syllables together. My pen has been becalmed for hours. The ink no longer flows, as if my pen had been weaned.
How can it be that I, who usually write pages and pages of letters from this place of confinement, cannot even produce a scribble? Being able to write would be something, but I have the feeling that the paper suffers, even from this simple line.
Stuffed into my pouch, all my thoughts fight one another. I’m lost. Honestly, I feel as stiff as the hem of a muddy pair of trousers or, what can I say, as if I had pebbles in my shoe.
But at last, this pencil I protect as the apple of my eye, my reason for living, lights a match in my head. At this hour when the night becomes total darkness, a spark is far from being nothing. Especially if you must fight in the spiral of an unprecedented persecution, unbalanced on the edge of a cliff, a blind well, where someone wishes to douse you in deadly gasoline.
I don’t know if I should be the archeologist of my own head. Because ever since our arrest, we have used up a number of calendars…While you were going about your usual business of living, and that is only human, for the past five years over here, I have been running after “justice”. Even if I know that what will come after that hour, will still not be justice…
Luckily, the tongue that is my pen has suddenly started wagging again. From here on, even the scribes of time cannot catch up with me.
You are still reading me? Then, let’s continue with our chatter.
I must tell you frankly that had I been told five years ago “you will be held in prison for years, for having practiced alternative journalism”, I would have moved along and laughed in your face. Never would I have imagined that the Law and our rights could be trampled this badly. Like a shuttle constantly moving backward and forward between acceptance and habituation, we are transformed into this object weaving the net we thought impossible, undoable. And that is the worst of it. Today, we accept silently as if they were ordinary all these things that, no more than five years ago, would have set fire to the greatest of indignations. We collapse in our armchairs, settle into our echo chambers, and we wish a long life to the snake that does not strike us.
And all those who did not dare touch us yesterday, now trample all over us. They were offered the possibility on a platter and they were more than happy to take it… Them? You know, those in power and their consorts, with whom we sometimes turned the other cheek. And if you strike the one with the long needle, you must know how to strike with the small one…Self-criticism would be in order.
This pencil is one of the stories on which the vise of persecution tested its teeth. Everything started by a piece of news: “You will see the strength of the Turk”. In 2015 in Yüksekova, a town smack on the borders of Irak, Iran and Turkey, Turkish special forces made a group pf Kurdish construction workers lie naked on the ground and hollered “You will see the strength of the Turk!” (in French)
I relayed this infamy and an inquest was opened against these policemen. But shortly thereafter, the voice of revenge reached my ears. Attacks using tear gas, rubber bullets, surveillance, aggressions, death threats, then arrest, torture during custody and, finally, on May 13 2016, incarceration. The threats delivered by JITEM 1 just a few days before my arrest were particularly eloquent: “We examine each lifeless body we recuperate, to see if it isn’t yours.”
We all had doubts on how my trial would proceed in a faraway district where armed forces and revenge work together. Naturally, they started by presenting pseudo “witnesses”. All of the 19 witnesses for the prosecution described torture while in custody. They clearly stated before the tribunal that they were forced to testify against us. As one concrete example, one of the witnesses declared: “the policemen told me: if you don’t sign this document, we will pull out your teeth with pliers”. This testimony and several others of the same ilk, were entered in the trial proceedings. Thus all the testimonies were annulled. The prosecution had to provide evidence. But in the file, all that remained as “evidence” were these bits of information. Information on disproportionate violences, on violations of rights…
Yet, the delegation of judges finalized the business to cries of victory. It settled on a sentence of 8 years, 9 months. In order to motivate the decision, it made an admission in fact, when it wrote: “For having produced embarrassing information…” What could be more normal in a region where brutalities by the security forces are covered with impunity? They were thus declaring that those informing the public of violations of rights, were the guilty ones. Had this been all…The judges criminalized something in a totally subjective manner. Briefly stated, the fact information was not produced using their language and from their point of view, became a motive for condemnation.
Under normal conditions, are not persons held responsible for their actions? In this case, I was chastised both for having produced information “disturbing the State” and also, for failing to produce “reassuring” information…
As for the policemen against whom an inquest had been opened, chances are good they will be rewarded some day with a promotion. As if they were all benevolent angels…
A few months after my condemnation, the AKP regime, in an effort to cleanse itself from the violation of rights and the disproportionate violence applied during the period of the curfews and urban warfare, said: “The generals members of FETÖ 2 acted this way in order to place the people and the State in confrontation”. Assuming this was the case, this information was still the one used to condemn me as “belonging to a terrorist organization” (PKK)…And the tribunals provided the rubber stamps to confirm this persecution.
I also note that I was not brought before the judges a single time. The European Court of Human Rights (CEDH) considers this, without question, a violation of rights, and there are dozens of jurisprudences to this effect. The individual requests concerning clear violations of rights filed by our lawyers to the Constitutional Tribunal (AYM) and the CEDH are in abeyance. I get the impression that the high judges love behaving like ostriches!
In all honesty, I’m ashamed to even bring up this persecution. Still no news from the authorities and, particularly, for the Constitutional Tribunal. Still, I am one of the lucky ones because there are so many people between these four walls who carry the traces of boots on their backs, to state it in an image, and who have no possibility of expressing their problems…I feel that speaking about mine is uncalled for, I feel ashamed to do so.
Please, consider this open letter as “representative” of situations. In this framework, justice is demanded for all.
This humble pencil writes this, expresses this. This letter is not so that you will send me correspondence, but so you will be informed and remain aware.
In solidarity and with the pencil’s resistance, before its lead is broken…
Van Prison. April 14 2021, 1 800th day of imprisonment.
If you wish to support and to write to Nedim and his friends in the block:
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
VAN – TURKEY
Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.