Solidarity Letters from Political Prisoners in Turkey
The number of political prisoners in Turkey is increasing on a daily basis. Despite Turkey being criticised for its crackdowns on mostly Kurdish but also Turkish journalists, lawyers, politicians and activists, there hasn’t been sufficient pressure on Turkey to end these mass and arbitrary arrests.
The violations of Kurdish rights in Turkey have been ongoing for decades. The struggle against the Turkish state to stop the unjust and degrading treatment of the Kurds seems never-ending. The number of Kurdish political prisoners strikes us as infinite, and consequently the prisoners are faceless to the outside world; just a mere number in a Turkish prison. An often forgotten statistic.
However, an initiative attempts to put a face and give a voice to those unknown defenders of human rights. People can write letters of solidarity to the prisoners, who are allowed to write back. Below are a compilation of a few letters from Kurdish political prisoners who all responded to the Solidarity letters of a Kurdish activist (named Xende).
The first letter is written by Salih Yildiz, the former mayor of Gever (Yüksekova) in the province of Colemêrg (Hakkari). He was arrested during a mass arrest of Kurdish politicians before the elections in Turkey in June, 2011 and charged with being a member of an illegal organisation.
Before he was arrested, he said: “These arrests are an attempt by the government to curb our influence in Colemêrg, and this is because it knows that in the June elections it won’t be able to gain the vote of the Kurds.”
The second letter is written by A. Rezak Yildiz who is the mayor of Gundikê Melî (Balveren) and like Salih Yildiz he is charged with being a member of an illegal organisation.
The third letter is by Arslan Özdemir, a sociologist and executive from the Amed (Diyarbakir) branch of IHD who was arrested in April, 2009. He was also accused of links to an illegal organisation. The evidence against him was statements from secret witnesses, wiretapping and documents that were found during raids at the IHD Diyarbakır Branch office and his home.
You can read more Solidarity letters here
Dear sister Xande,
With your heart full of love, brotherhood, peace, solidarity and the land whose mountains, soil, stones and atmosphere you long for – the land in which ten thousand of your siblings are held captive and are scattered throughout hundreds of dungeons, in our great realm which is indeed the cradle of civilization – may you always be.
“How can the oppressed bow to the cruel who have had the wrath of god?” Sister Xande be it inside or out of jails our motherland has been turned into a prison for us. For this reason, with certainty we say that for humanity and peace to live in harmony in this land, we need to create a society where democracy, justice and morality are incorporated.
The mortar of society is created by people through different ethnicities, languages, religions and cultures.
On this foundation, your letter of solidarity for our friends that are in their 52nd day of the hunger strike has given us great morale and strength. We all send our sincere thanks to you. May you live long, comrade Xande.
Regards and respect,
Today, our people’s struggle for awareness, peace, democracy and freedom makes us very excited. Our entire struggle is to gain our basic rights – like other people living on this region – that come from humanitarian justification. Kurds are an ancient nation of the Middle East and Mesopotamia. We are a nation with an identity, culture and beliefs that are thousands of years old. We have never denied any other nation or culture, but for hundreds of years, the precept that brought nation-state and capitalist-modernity to this region, is denying our identity, culture and language.
Today, the only reason for these dungeons being filled with Kurdish prisoners is our morals, conscience, humanitarian and honorable stance against these holocaust and denial policies. Our struggle is for an honorable life, and we are ready to pay the price for it with confidence and determination. That is why one of our nation leaders has said, “We love this life so much that we can die for the sake of it.”
Since September 12, 2012, we had laid our bodies to death for peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question. Our aim was to be the last people to die for the resolution of this issue. I hope peace will come to our lands sooner and Kurds will have their freedom, as well as other oppressed nations.
We and all “prisoners of freedom” stand with our people and dance to peace and brotherhood of free nations.
We have a sweet 450-year-old town called Gundikê Melî in Şirnex. I was elected mayor of that town in 2009. We were working hard to serve our people on substructure-superstructure, cultural and social works. But on September 16, 2011 in Botan, we were arrested and have since been imprisoned as part of the political genocide policies against our party and representatives. We are here for 14 months, however I believe that we will be free and serve our people again.
Note 1: Today we’ve ended the hunger strike
Dear Human Rights Defender,
First of all, thank you very much for your letter. For sure, your letters are giving us strength. The support from the friends of humanity accounts an important portion of the reason why we are still strong here, even though we were put here unjustly. The amount of pain we have to go through, regardless, for our struggles and victories, all of them will fade away soon just like a drop of water falls onto ink on a piece of paper. We know why we are here, and it may be the reason why these walls were built to surround us, but we live our freedom in its best form.
You, dear friends, if you raise your voice and let the world know about our plight, we will be freer here.
I salute you and other friends with my warmest regards and I wish you success. I’m awaiting your support letters.
Sociologist – Human Rights Defender