A mother and her baby went to prison again. 2.5-year-old Hakan baby and his mother were arrested two days ago. The father is accused of participating in a trip organized by the state university and he has been detained for 15 months. Now three of them are together at Osmaniye Toprakkale Prison…
A new one has been added to baby prisoners. Zeynep Zeyfeoglu and his two-year-old son Hakan were arrested Thursday morning (March 21st). After teacher Zeynep and her son`s arrest, the number of nuclear families in Turkey prisons is again improved. The three members of the Zeyfeoğlu family which was started in 2014 are now in Osmaniye Toprakkale Prison.
PARTICIPATING IN A TRIP ORGANIZED BY THE STATE UNIVERSITY WAS CONSIDERED AS A CRIME
Sercan Zeyfeoğlu, a history teacher, was detained on 29 December 2017 and arrested on 3 January 2018. He was detained in charge of ‘being a member of an armed terrorist organization’ due to his name was given to police by a friend. Zeyfeoglu who is known as a cheerful person was arrested because of a smile while his testimony was being read. He then became a Bylock user in his indictment. The most tragicomic crime attributed to him was to attend a trip which was organized by the rectorate of Van Yüzüncü Yıl University. Sercan Zeyfeoğlu, who graduated from the history department of the university in 2011, is accused of going on a visit of the Rectorate.
FIRST, ‘NO BYLOCK’, THEN ‘YES, THERE IS’
His wife Zeynep Zeyfeoglu was also attributed to ‘use Bylock’ as a crime. However, when Sercan Zeyfeoglu was detained, the police confiscated the mobile phones of them, then first; “your phones are clean” they said. Then they took back Sercan Zeyfeoğlu’s mobile and found Bylock! Zeynep Zeyfeoğlu, who went to visit her husband in prison for a year and a half, was suddenly declared as a Bylock user!
S. Zeyfeoğlu, whom we talked to by phone from the Zeyfeoğlu family; “They detained Zeynep on Thursday and arrested him the same day. They also wrote to the arrest report that ‘detection of evidence is being made’. They could’ve done it without arrest. They could do it with probation too. There is no logic anywhere in this incident. The judge, the prosecutor’s aim is to put the pressure to make her use the effective repentance law to get somebody else`s name. So there would not be anyone who is not arrested in this country. Attending a trip which was organized by the rectorate of Van Yüzüncü Yıl University was considered as a crime. It was a trip organized by the state university.” she said.
Sercan Zeyfeoğlu’s first trial was in November 2018, the second trial was held last January. The third court will be held on 9 April. According to S. Zeyfeoğlu and the lawyer, the reason for the arrest of Zeynep Zeyfeoğlu was to put pressure on the family to get somebody else`s name before the final hearing.
THEY ARE THE ONLY CHILDREN WHO ARE EDUCATED IN THEIR FAMILIES
One is the only educated daughter of a family of 14, and the other is the only educated son of a family of six… Zeynep Zeyfeoğlu, a 29-year-old from Siirt Pervari, is one of the two girls of the village who graduated from a university. In Dogankoy where girls’ education is not considered as necessary, her struggle was hope for other girls in the village. She opened a path for them. There are many girls who are university students at the moment in Dogankoy.
Everyone in his family cherished to make him an educated person, 31-year-old Sercan Zeyfeoğlu, grew up in Osmaniye. Zeynep Zeyfeoğlu Erzurum graduated from Atatürk University, Sercan Zeyfeoğlu graduated from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University. One is a history teacher and the other is a math teacher.
The son of Zeyfeoglu, Hakan was born in October 2016, after the Zeyfeoglu couple got married while they were working in Çağlayan Education institution in Van in 2014. Now, with all the rights taken away, he lives with his mother in a 40-square-meter ward. Two years ago by returning to Osmaniye, the Zeyfeoğlu couple were fellow citizens who were living in their own world…
THE DIALOGUES AND ATMOSPHERE IN THE COURTS ARE…
Suleyman Zeyfeoglu who had Parkinson’s syndrome and heart failure, the father of Sercan Zeyfeoglu, was diagnosed with lung cancer after the Feast of Sacrifice in 2018. S. Zeyfeoğlu stated that their sufferings triggered this disease by these expressions; “We tried very hard to make Sercan an educated person. While we think he is now a teacher, the state stigmatized him as a terrorist. If you see the dialogues and atmosphere in the courts, you can understand better. There is a court game in there, just like a theater. What is your name? What is your surname? Do you have an objection to your expression? Sit down. Next one… The people are as desperate as death.”
Sercan Zeyfeoğlu` father who was diagnosed as lung cancer, Suleyman Zeyfeoglu, said “I lived what I have in my fate, I want to see my son released as final request’. Süleyman Zeyfeoğlu died on 28 March 2019 and the prosecutor’s office did not allow his son to attend the funeral.
Mother, get up! You’ve come this far, are you giving up?
Fired through the emergency decree, search warrant, days spent hiding, passing through the River Meric, refugee, and Germany… This is an unusual story of an ordinary family.
The process of July 15 caused trauma to children. Both the prisoners and the refugees who passed through the River Meric experienced different difficulties. They had unforgettable memories and pain.
Children who had to grow up in their small age told each other stories in the European camps instead of fairy tales and gave their parents the strength to stand and resist.
The Yapraklı family’ s story, who passed through the river Meric with their 5 and 7-year-old children was unforgettable.
WE COULD NOT BELIEVE WHEN WE LEARNED THE ACCUSATION ABOUT US
Zeynep Yapraklı: We were an ordinary family living in Zonguldak. I am a housewife. We were married in 2009 with my husband Ahmet Yapraklı. We have two kids. My son Hamza is 7, and our daughter Elif Betul is 5 years old. After 15 July, as if we did the coup attempt, our life changed completely. That evening, we were in our house and having tea together. As usual, my husband had come from work, we had dinner. We didn’t understand what happened at that time.
My husband was working as an inspection officer in Zonguldak Trade Provincial Directorate. At the same time, he was teaching international trade at Zonguldak Karaelmas University. He was an officer for five years and fired after the coup attempt. Zonguldak Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a warrant about him with 3 files.
The accusations were being the member of an armed terrorist organization, attempting to abolish constitutional amendments, counterfeiting official documents, and directing public institutions and organizations! We didn’t know what to do when we saw the claims.
THEY OFFERED BRIBERY, AND I REJECTED
Ahmet Yapraklı: “Bribery incidents are happening in the customs. I was a new officer. It was offered to me, but I did not accept it. A company brought scraps. They said they got car parts which were broken and sturdy. The government did not take tax on the broken stuff, but the others had to be paid tax. We applied a penalty of 160 thousand TL to the company based in Ankara. Two people came from Ankara, “You are an officer, how much is your salary? We will give 70 thousand TL to you,” he said. Of course, I did not accept it.”
Zeynep Yapraklı: “My husband started living away from home for a while after his arrest warrant was issued. Why would he go to jail? He was not guilty. We were meeting each other from time to time, but then it became a nightmare for us.
I couldn’t stay alone with my kids in Zonguldak. Six months later, we went to where he was located. After about two years, it was becoming difficult for both of us to stay in Turkey. We were afraid to go out. In June 2018, we decided to go abroad. We had only one way; the River Meric.
On June 31, 2018, at 09.00 we set off from Ankara to Istanbul. After 6 hours, we met our fellow travelers in Istanbul. There were two other people with us. We didn’t know them, and we didn’t even know their names. We gave smugglers money where we met.
WE WERE ON AN ISLAND INSTEAD OF GREECE
Ahmet Yapraklı: We set off after paying. They left us somewhere in Edirne. The smugglers said they were going to inflate the boat and left. About an hour passed. We were worried. Then they came and said that the pump was broken while the boat was inflating. Then, we started to drive by the river.
There was another car ahead of us. We passed the car, but it kept coming after us. The driver who was worried about the car made a left turn to the opposite direction of the River. The car came back from behind us.
I look at my back. The car was coming. I told to the driver to go fast. Now, the vehicle didn’t come behind us, and after we waited a little while, we got to the border again.
WE DRAGGED ALONG THE RIVER FOR 40 MINUTES
The smuggler said that he had a guide next to the boat, waiting for us to help cross the river. We walked for 5 minutes to the boat. It was easy after that. We were on the boat. We drifted down about three miles down about 40 minutes. Then the guide said he could not get to the shore.
I helped him by holding the branches, and we got to the shore. The guide would leave us there. We argued, and I said that I would not let him go. I called a friend who helped us get to the road. He said;” According to the map, it looks like that they have left you on an island.” The place where we stepped was a very bad,rugged area. Destroyed trees, thorns, mud… It had been raining for a week and it was wet, and water flow was increased. The guide tried to show the way, but he was a novice.
WE GOT IN THE WATER WITH THE CHILDREN
Because the forest was a common area, we could not see ahead of us. We started to discuss and yell at each other. Anyway, I decided to find the road myself. We came to the river, and I realized that we were on a really small island.
My friend led us to the top of the island where the river shrank, but it was difficult to walk. I was opening the road, and my kids and my wife were coming up behind me. The guide was also at the back. I went up a little further and went into the water. I was measuring the depth with the stick in my hand. The water came up somewhere on the chest. Then, I took one or two more steps and went back to the waist level. I took one kid on my shoulder. My wife took the other one on her back. We entered the water together.
OUR DAUGHTER FELL TO THE RIVER
We crossed the water at last. We began to gather and walk. We took another 10-15 steps, and we came back with water again. That was the moment we gave up. My wife begged for me to wait until morning.
I went into the water again with the same tactic. The depth was up to the waist. In the same way, I took the children to our backs and gave the bags to the guide. We had a supply bag. I was holding it for the kids.
We were scared when it became deep suddenly. Children were panicked, and my wife staggered. My daughter, Elif Betül, fell into the water. We caught immediately and landed in a ravaged state. Both my wife and the children were crying. My little kid was screaming that we were going to die there. It was hard. Thanks to Allah. We succeeded at last.”
I WAS ASHAMED WHEN MY SON SAID; “MOTHER, GET UP! YOU’VE COME THIS FAR, ARE YOU GIVING UP?”
Zeynep Yapraklı: “We had passed the second water, but I had no power to survive. I crouched down and started crying. I was a bit confident in a life vest, but I could not walk in the water. My seven-year-old son said, “You can’t give up. You have come this far. Get up, be strong. I feel very bad when you cry.”
We walked for about an hour and we got under the tree. We were close to a village, I guessed. I put nylon under the children and covered them with a blanket that remained dry even though we went into the water. The kids slept until morning.
I FELT THAT I WAS A REFUGEE
Then as soon as we set off, two cars came and picked us up. It was such a long night as if it lasted years. I could say we rested in the supervision.
The Greek police’ s approach was good. They asked whether we were hungry and thirsty. But their way of taking us to the Police Situation was bad. That moment I felt I was a refugee. They put us behind a car with no lights. There were a few small holes on the top of the car for air. the inside of the car was very dirty. When that iron door was closed, we got worse.
I WAS ALSO FIRED. I WAS PROFESSOR
Ahmet Yapraklı: We came under the tree. There was Edirne on the right and Greece on the left. I said we had to walk to the left, but the guide said it was right. He had seen a hut 200 meters ahead. It was at four o’clock.
We started at around 23:00 and ended the trip at 4:00. We were waiting for the sun to rise. There was a station nearby, and we decided to take the train to Thessaloniki. The sun was born. We had a snack. The weather warmed up, we dried the things up a bit.
I thought the guide would be back. He said; “I was also fired. I was a professor at the university. I was surprised. I would drown the man or strangle. I asked why he didn’t tell me. The smuggler had told him, “I told you as a guide or they will not take the boat.”
We went on the road. After 100 meters, the Greek police came. We explained the situation. We said we escaped from the Erdogan regime. They took us to the station and we were in custody. There were 5 beds. Everybody just went to sleep. Sometimes, the police were coming, asking for something. We understood each other difficulty. A few hours later, someone who speaks Turkish came up.
ARE YOU TERRORISTS?
’I came for you,‘ he said. When he saw our station, he began to mock with the slander “terrorist”. He joked; ‘Now, are you terrorists? Did you leave bombs in Turkey.’ Our fingerprints and photos were taken. Due to tiredness, we were like “wanted” in the photos. “You’re going to the camp.” the interpreter said. They took us to the camp 10 minutes away with a closed car.
IT WAS LIKE A ZOMBIE FILM
The car stopped, and we went down. There was a place like the police station. There were fences up to the ceiling. People climbed on the fences and wanted something by handing out. There was cigarette smoke everywhere. It was like a movie scene. I felt like I was watching zombies. I thought we could not get out of there.
We went inside; high walled place, dark, no light. I was stunned when someone said welcome. “I’m Ahmet, I’m Turkish,” he said. He showed me and my wife a bunk bed. We chose the bunk closest to the door. My wife was going to start crying with fear. This time, a woman said welcome.
WE FORGOT THE HORRIBLE NIGHT IN 10 MINUTES
There were completely Turks in the ward. The reason of all for escaping was the same as ours. They had been there for 3 days. We greeted and hugged. Our morale was fulfilled. We started the conversation. they ordered coffee in the canteen hour. I forgot everything about the horrible night in 10 minutes. I met my beloved friends after 2 years. My wife got well.
In the evening, my wife and the children slept early. We talked with friends until late hours. The bunk beds were covered with cloth and cardboard. Every family created their privacy. There was a prayer rug at the top of a bunk, and people prayed in order. There was something like a flashlight that was used while going to the WC. In the morning they said everyone would leave during that day. I was glad to hear it and thanked Allah.
THE BATHROOM QUEUE IN THE UN CAMP
They took us to the United Nations camp. There were the washing machine, the bathroom, and the clean sheets. They said we would stay together for a maximum of 10 people. They put us to the container with three families, a few singles and 6 Afghans. Afghans said ’Welcome to Turks’.
They did not give new sheets to our rooms. In one of the containers, there were bunk beds in a container, but in the other one, there was not. We sent the women to the bunk bed, and we started to clean dirty sponge and blankets to sleep.
In our container, there was no bath, but it was on the women’s side. Firstly, children and women took a shower. Then they emptied that container, we went in line and bathed.
On the second day, they gave a donut and juice at breakfast. In lunch and dinner, there were boiled potatoes and bread. Tomatoes, cucumbers and the cheese made us so happy. At first, the children did not eat, but then they could not resist. Less food, less talk, less sleep. We returned to the circumcision that we forgot. Even children didn’t waste anymore, kept them and then ate.
WATER HEATING IN MILK BOX TO BREW TEA
Only our tea was missing. We couldn’t drink on the first night. Things like kettle were forbidden. On the second day, we met some of our needs from Afghans. I saw them drinking tea in their room. I asked where they got it. They said it was easy.
One liter of milk was delivered for children in the morning. Their boxes were covered with foil. They boiled the water in the boxes. Every day between 16.00-17.00, a small car came to the camp to sell tea, cigarettes, cola, water, etc. They got tea from there for us. After dinner each evening, they began to brew us tea.
New families came to our container. We combined all the beds and slept 15 people in 9 beds. After lunch, our tea was ready with biscuits and kernel. We prayed and gathered together to chat. Everyone was happy, women were good, and children found friends. the environment was great.
I MET WITH MY FRIEND WHO I HAD NOT SEEN FOR TWO YEARS
I met with my friend I hadn’t seen for two years in the UN camp. At 10 meters, we chatted through the wires. I said I would send them tea. He could not believe, but they were very happy. Afghans had made two iron resistors by wire. That was how we delivered the handmade kettle to them. And they had tea.
We left the camp that evening. They took us until Alexandroupolis. We came to Athens by plane. We found a guest house with 3 rooms. Clean bed, bed linen, TV, internet, bathroom, and my family… It was the best moment of five days. I pray to Allah to let everyone who is in trouble immediately free. After 8 attempts, we came to Germany. On October 24, 2018, Zeynep and the children passed. I passed on November 4, 2018.
We are staying in the houses given by the municipality. We’re looking for a kindergarten for my daughter. Our son started school. Everyone here likes to go to the riverside. We stay as far away as possible because our memories come alive. Those who lost their lives in the River Meric come to our minds.
CHILDREN WOKE UP SCREAMING WE WERE SINKING
Zeynep Yapraklı: Children sometimes say that they miss their grandmother. We say they will come to visit us. They say they shouldn’t come through Meric. When I say they will fly, they ask why we passed through Meric.
I thought the kids were not affected at all. But they are so deeply touched that they remember Meric when they see every wooded area. However, they will not want to return to Turkey in order not to pass through Meric again. We came here from Greece in our 8th attempts, which affected the children so much. When they set us up at the airport, they questioned us why they didn’t like us and want Turks.
We were impressed in the first days that we experienced. The children did not sleep for days. They woke up screaming we were sinking. We also woke up with fear. It was difficult for us.
Zeynep Yaprakli (29), Ahmet Yaprakli (34), Hamza (7), and Elif Betul (5) are now trying to hold on to their lives in Germany.
A lifetime has passed like this: first looked for his son, now in protest for his grandson
Remziye Bayram is looking for his son who had been gone missing in custody for 23 years. Now he’s in action for his grandson on hunger strike. The story of a Kurdish woman who has not changed since the 90s’.
BOLD / AGENDA – Remziye Şirin Bayram, mother of Mehmet Şirin Bayram, who had been gone missing after his detention in Demirli (Temiran) village of Diyarbakır Province on 1 November 1996, is looking for her son for 23 years. Remziye Bayram, one of the Saturday Mothers, takes the road of Diyarbakır Branch of Human Rights Association (İHD) with her son’s photo framed every Saturday. After chatting with other mothers before the action, she moves into the action room. Since the closure of Kosuyolu Park to the Saturday mothers, Remziye Bayram shows up to the world that she hasn’t forgotten about her son, and is looking for her to her last breath.
Remziye Bayram described herself as “I am mother if Sirin”, and told the Mesopotamian Agency about the pressures in many Kurdish villages in the 1990s: “We were leaving in the hamlet of the Demirli village (Temira). In 1994, we had to leave our village due to the imposition of working as a village guard. Normally we left the village as a whole family, but his uncle returned to the village in 1996. Sirin went to the village to see his uncle. He was 18 at the time. After 3 days at his uncle’s house, he went to the house of an acquaintance. According to their narration, he says; “I am expecting some guests before we go to sleep at night between 23.00 – 24.00. Please, do not be afraid If the door is knocked.” He said that at the time the door was knocked, but the arriving soldiers, special forces and village guards. The door was knocked at the mentioned time however the people who came were not guests but, soldiers, special forces and village guards. They detain Sirin and 65 years old host, Ramazan Tekin. In the morning, family members tell the situation to their uncle. His uncle also visits the headquarters of the police station in the center Kulp, but he was given this answer; “He is not here.” Following, the other villagers went to the police station asking for the situation but we did not get a response.
23 YEARS OF CONTINUOUS INVESTIGATION and WITNESSES WHO CHANGE THEIR STATEMENTS
The family asked the fate of Sirin to one village guard who they knew personally, said “I saw Şirin, he was in custody, his eyes were closed. I approached him and called his name, he recognized me and asked me what I was doing here. In return, I replied, this is my place. What are you doing here? However, after a short time, the village guard withdraw his statement after receiving several life threats and stated that it was not Sirin I saw in the custody that night, it was someone else. Mother Remziye said that they had asked all the authorities for years as a family and they were always told that the case was under investigation and that they renewed their complaints every year.
“I WILL CONTINUE UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT TELLS ME WHAT THEY DID TO MY SON”
Since her son’s disappearance, mother Remziye, with her white shawl, never stopped asking her son’s fate. “I’m still struggling since then. Either that government will explain to us how they killed our child and give me his bones, or I’ll knock on their doors every day. So, the government is in great delusion if they think we are going to give up looking for my son every day.
FIRST LOOKED FOR HIS SON, NOW IN PROTEST FOR HIS GRANDSON
Remziye Bayram now goes out on the street for her son as well as her grandson on hunger strike. His grandson Azad Bayram, who was detained in Batman 8 months ago, was arrested by the court. Bayram was stayed in Batman prison for 3 months and, now is in Van T type prison for 5 months. Mother Remziye, with her daughter, is now visiting Kosuyolu park everyday to withdraw the segregation on her grandson who is under hunger strike.
Mother Remziye describes the 23 years of her 62 years with saying; “We have nothing to fear anymore. Our children are gone, our grandchildren are gone… There is nothing but struggle in our lives. Azad is in hunger strike in prison. His mother and I work outside. So, we do not have any other struggle and worry but this.
 The Saturday Mothers (Cumartesi Anneleri) is a group who gathers 12pm every Saturday for half an hour at Galatasaray (district), Istanbul (Turkey), holding photographs of their “lost” loved ones. Mainly composed of mothers of victims, and renowned as a model of civil disobedience, they combine silent sit-in with communal vigil as their method of protest against the forced disappearances and political murders in Turkey during the military coup-era of 1980s and the OHAL-era of 1990s. On October 25, 2014, they held their 500th sit-in protest. (Wikipedia, 2019)