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Human Rights

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Zeynep Yaprakli (29), Ahmet Yaprakli (34), Hamza (7), and Elif Betul (5) are now trying to hold on to their lives in Germany.

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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


’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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.

Human Rights

Life of a child murdered – Ahmet Burhan Ataç

The story of two years with resistance, suffering, and persecution is told from September 24, 2018, when he was diagnosed with cancer, until May 7, 2020, when he died.

Zekiye-Harun Reha Ataç’s child Ahmed Burhan Ataç was diagnosed with bone cancer on September 24, 2018. At the time he was diagnosed, his father was arrested. Ahmet’s two-year-long struggle mirrors the situation in Turkey.

On February 20, 2018, while Ahmet was playing games with his friends in the nursery, his mother Zekiye Ataç and his father Harun Reha Ataç were detained. Ahmet was only six years old. The mother Ataç, who was expelled during the state of emergency, was detained for 14 days. She was released after being arrested for about three months. The father Ataç was expelled from the teaching profession with a Decree-Law and got arrested after being detained for 13 days over being a director in a private dormitory related to the Gulen Movement. The diagnosis of Ahmet’s disease coincides with the period that he has been left without a mother and father for three months.

“No discount for you!”

Harun Reha Ataç, who was on trial at the Adana 2nd High Criminal Court, was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison after his son was diagnosed with cancer. On November 30, 2018, the reports about Ahmet’s illness and chemotherapy period were submitted to the court to request Harun Reha Ataç’s release pending appeal. The judge decided to continue his detention by saying, “I have no discount for you.”

Because Ahmet did not recover with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, he was operated in July 2019, and the tumor in the shoulder blade was cleaned. However, in September 2019, it was determined that the tumor had spread to the lung.

Via social media, Zekiye Ataç, said, “We had a test this week. A tumor was detected in the lung. Doctors were also shocked at the tumor’s growth in such a short time. I have no choice. My son is dying before my eyes. “Social media users put the issue on the agenda after the videos of the mother’s comments and Ahmet’s speech for his father’s release.
A campaign was launched on social media for Ahmet’s father to be tried without arrest and to be with him during the treatment process. Zekiye Ataç said, “There was a phone call from my husband in the morning, but Ahmet did not want to talk to his father on the phone. Because he couldn’t stand, but then he asked me, “What does my father say? My God, I wish my dad comes.” Thousands of social media users joined the label about Ahmet and his father’s release, and Ahmet was known widely by public opinion.

Ahmet’s mother detained

While the intense criticisms directed to Adana Courthouse about the difficulties for Ahmet’s treatment abroad and his father’s not being released, mother Zekiye Ataç was detained for the second time on October 15, 2019. Ahmet was without a father and a mother. Zekiye Ataç was accused of being a ‘member of the organization’ because she accepted the aids given for the treatment of his son. Zekiye Ataç was released the next day under the condition of judicial control after the reactions increased further.

Treatment hope

As Ahmet’s disease progressed, his doctors directed him to the Immun-Oncology Center in Germany and stated that he could be treated there. In the first contact with the clinic, it was stated that Ahmet should be brought quickly. The family did not have the economic power to pay the expenses. Ahmet went to Germany on January 20, 2020, after a businessman said he would pay the first stage expenses. His mother could not go with Ahmet because of her travel ban. Ahmet went to Germany with his 70-year-old grandmother.

Required sum collected in 24 hours

Artel Natali Avazyan, a rights advocate who followed the case of Ahmet, started a donation campaign on January 24, 2020, for treatment expenses. The required 50 thousand euro was collected in 24 hours.

Mother Ataç said that the collection of the necessary money for the treatment was very moving: “I would like to thank Mrs. Natali and everyone who contributed in money and spirits. My belief in Ahmet’s recovery is strengthened. I think he will recover and have a nice family day.” She also added that her husband was also pleased that Ahmet went to Germany for treatment: “I will inform him that the money needed for treatment is collected. He will be very happy because he always thinks about Ahmet and us.”

Application for travel permission

Zekiye Ataç intensified her attempts to get travel permission and obtain a passport. However, the prosecution did not allow her to travel abroad.

It was stated that Ahmet was constantly crying and was depressed, and therefore did not respond to the treatment. Businessman Mete Atakul, who hosted Ahmet at his home in Germany, stated that Ahmet did not even eat because he was sad.

Travel ban restored three times

Due to intense public pressure, Zekiye Ataç could get travel permission in February 2020. However, upon the objection made by the prosecutor’s office, the court canceled her passport for the second time.

Because her mother could not go to Germany, Ahmed returned to Turkey to see his mother on February 8 for two weeks.

As a result of the efforts of Natali Avazyan and MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, travel permission was given again on February 21, 2020. The German Embassy quickly issued a visa to mother Ataç.

While trying to go to Germany on March 2, 2020, Zekiye Ataç learned at the airport that the Mersin 7th High Criminal Court canceled her passport for the third time.

“You are killing my son”

Zekiye Ataç posted a video on her social media account with the note, “You are killing my son in cooperation”.

Ahmet and his mother started waiting at the airport to solve the problem. The reactions have increased via social media. Singer Haluk Levent announced that he had met with Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu. The next day, on March 3, 2020, the travel permission was given again, and Ahmet flew to Germany with his mother.

Too late for treatment

Ahmet’s disease spread because judicial processes lasted too long. The blood values of Ahmet, who had many fractures in the leg bones, also decreased and did not respond to the treatment.

Doctors stated that Ahmet’s blood values were very low, and his body could not support the treatment.

Ahmet and his mother moved back to Turkey on March 11, 2020.

Phone conversation between father and son

A campaign was started for Ahmet’s father to be tried without an arrest to support his son during the treatment period. On March 27, 2020, the recorded telephone conversation between Ahmet and his father was published.

Ahmet wants his father to ‘come’. “Come here now; I can not stand.” His father, Harun Ataç, answered, crying: “My son, I cannot come. I want to come too, but I can’t, son. They don’t let me go, baby.”

After the intense effect created by the recorded speech, the prosecutor’s office allowed the father to meet his son for the first time. For a 5-hour meeting, father Harun Ataç came to the hospital to see Ahmet.

After the meeting, the photos of Ahmet, who slept smiling, were published.

Subsequently, all of the appeals for Harun Ataç’s trial without arrest were rejected.

Second campaign for morale: I love Ahmet

Arlet Natali Avazyan started a new campaign to cheer up Ahmet. Social media users said, ‘I love Ahmet’ with the videos and messages they shared. Famous people and social media users shared motivating videos.

Intensive care: Dad not allowed

Ahmet, whose condition worsened every day, got worse on May 6, 2020, and was taken to intensive care. Doctors put Ahmet to sleep.

Permission was requested from the prosecutor’s office for the father, Harun Reha Ataç, who was arrested in Tarsus Prison to see Ahmet for the last time. The prosecutor was stubborn not to let Harun Ataç see his son before the morning.

Ahmet left us

The heart of Ahmet, who struggled with the bone cancer disease he had caught in 2018 under the conditions of ‘state of emergency’, stopped three times. On May 7, 2020, Ahmet closed his eyes.

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Human Rights

The story of Demir Family: Imprisoned and plundered

Living in Fethiye for 28 years, Demir Family, from the Erzurum city located in eastern Turkey, has experienced a severe trauma after July 15, 2016, as eight of its members were imprisoned.

After the controversial July 15 coup attempt, the Erdoğan regime canceled Mrs. Fatma Demir’s and her husband Mr. Mevlüt Demir’s passports and imposed an interim injunction on their assets.

After that, eight were imprisoned from Demir family, five of them on the same day: Mrs. Fatma Demir, her husband Mr. Mevlüt Demir, their son, their daughter, their daughter-in-law, their two sons-in-law, and their granddaughter.

According to Cevheri Güven’s news from Bold Medya, Mrs. Fatma Demir disclosed about the day and her following experience:

“My son Onur, my daughter-in-law Ezgi, my daughter Esra and my son-in-law Mahmut had come to visit us. While we all were at home, the police raided our house. They made us sit on a sofa for 6 hours without allowing any physical movement. They didn’t even let me fetch my grandson’s milk from the fridge right next to me. Just then, my husband and my daughter were outside. The police detained us six all. The police said on the phone to their superiors that ‘We found a treasure’. I think they get a bonus from such raids.

“We were in custody for 11 days. We were even forbidden to look at each other while being daily taken to the forensic physician. At the end of the 11th day, they took my statement for 4.5-hours. A long-faced, tall and bearded policeman made a questioning as if beating me over the table, lying, ‘Talk!!! Hey, you woman, talk!!’ I am 54 years old, and he was consistently asking who made me marry my husband!? I said, ‘I got married in the village in Erzurum.’ And he was asking my matchmaker. I said, ‘My father got me married.’ He just asked strange questions. I had a headache during 4.5-hours of nonsense questioning. Eventually, he said, ‘Take her away… She is useless.’ I didn’t understand what I could say as a 54-year old innocent woman.”

Then everyone was arrested. They sent us to three different prisons in three different cities intending to prevent us from visiting each other in the prison, although our surnames are the same and we had the constitutional right to see each other. Just to give us more hardship.”

When all the members of our family were arrested, neither anyone brought clothes to the prison nor deposited advance money in our accounts for prison canteen shopping:

“I was sent to Denizli T Type Prison. No one brought me clothes, or I didn’t have any down payment for the prison canteen. We were all in the same situation. We were literally in hunger amidst plenty. My husband was a building contractor, and we were financially sound. Suddenly we fell down the hill economically, from heyday days to not having two nickels to rub together.

I had a navy blue dress and a green greatcoat. The officials in the prison entrance said that navy blue and green colors were forbidden in prison. They insisted on taking my clothes out due to their colors. I replied that I didn’t have any other clothes; nevertheless, they still persisted. They even took out my navy blue fabric bonnet from my head under my scarf, which is used to keep firmly the hair under the silk scarf. I reiterated that I didn’t have any other clothes, but the same reply I received:

‘Forbidden!!!’. They pressured a lot. Then I suggested to them that they might bring me a white cloth so that I could cuddle myself like a lunatic one in psychiatry. I wouldn’t enter prison without clothes.

They took me to the ward. There were young students or young teachers in the ward. I was overweighted compared to them. Their clothes did not fit me. I was about to raise my hands and pray, ‘O Almighty, send someone in my weight to this ward to share her clothes.’

“Interestingly, although my husband sent enough clothes for me with my lawyer, he said to my husband that he has handed over my clothes to me, yet he did not. I received those clothes five months later from the lawyer’s car after I was released from prison. The lawyer also gave us a lot of trouble.”

In the second month of Mrs. Fatma Demir’s detention without a visitor, one day, her daughter entered in her ward:

“One day, the ward’s door was opened. We always thought that when someone opened the door outside of the mealtime, another innocent one was sent to our ward. We prepare the place, and we help her. I ran down the stairs and opened the door, and I have seen my daughter out there.

Demir Ailesi cezaevi iç görüşlerinde.

She said ‘Mom’ and I said ‘Dearest’. We hugged and embraced each other. Not only we two, but also everyone in the ward was crying along with us. My daughter said her father was also arrested with her. A tremor began on my left side. It continued for a long time. I went to the infirmary for weeks; they gave me powerful pills. Of course, we do not know what pill it was. They don’t provide the prescription; they just give the capsule. I turned into a person sitting like a robot on my bed while I used to be a morale-booster one who amused everyone in the ward. I was just sitting, numbed. Everyone started telling me what’s going on. Then we found out that it was a very high dose of medication that was given to the people who brutally attacked others. After I was released from prison, I asked a doctor about the drugs, and he said it was too strong for me. I came to myself in days when I quit it. Such wrong drugs are also given to the innocent prisoners, and they are numbing the brains.

I stayed with my daughter in the same ward for three months. My daughter had miscarriage her three children. She was able to have the fourth one with treatment. Of course, she missed her child very much and was crying by calling my grandson’s name ‘Levent’ till the mornings. We could not stand it, and we took my grandson Levent, undesirably, with us to the prison.

My grandson, my daughter, and I were in the same ward. My son-in-law and my husband were in the same ward while my other son-in-law was in Muğla City prison, and my daughter-in-law was in Aydın City prison. Seven persons from the same family were in prisons in three cities… We made my son Onur to be transferred to his father’s ward by writing hundreds of petitions as his father had illnesses and needed care. The father and the son stayed together for a year in the same ward. When the Supreme Court upheld my son’s sentence, they separated my son and took him to another ward. My son said to some staff in prison, ‘I requested the concerned authorities to be transferred to this prison because my father is ill and needs a carer. If I can talk to the prison director and express myself, he may not separate us. There is a blockage in his brain vessels. The required surgery could not be carried out due to the detention.’ Just because he had this request, the Emergency Response Team appeared and took my son by pushing his head down, as if he was a terrorist. They took him to the torture chamber. They wanted him to undress. A room with soundproof walls.. My son did not elaborate on what has happened, but apparently, they undressed him by force, handcuffed him from behind and they tied his feet by laying his face down. Hours later, they took him back by saying, “Did you come to your sense?”. They did so just because my son wanted to explain to the prison director on his father’s illness. Later they asked the prison director anyway, and when prison director said no, nobody insisted.”

Having her grandson’s only toy in prison was the broomstick, Fatma Demir described her days spent in prison:

“My grandson constantly wanted to go out by pushing the door. There was no toy of course. There was a broom which we swept the floor. He was playing with the broomstick. He climbed the bunk beds, fell, and cried. He went up and down the stairs, fell, and cried. When he started talking, he used to say, ‘Don’t get upset, there is little left’ and made everyone laugh. Normally kids do not like some vegetables like leeks, but since he is obliged to eat, he used to say “I feel like eating leeks today”, and leek was coming on the menu. If he said ‘I feel like eating eggs today,’ and we had eggs on the menu. Whatever my grandson said, it was served. My ward-mates were getting around, and saying ‘Dear Levent, please wish such and such food today.’

If anyone cried, my grandson used to solace, “There is too little left, we will be out anyway.” He had been going a number of times to the courts with his mother for two years. One day he got up at the courtroom and started performing prayer. As he only saw women around in prison, he insisted on having a scarf for his head for his prayer. Although we insisted a lot, Levent could not wear shorts or short sleeve t-shirts, since there were cameras everywhere for us, the prisoners and we all were always paying attention to our wearing, I mean the hijab (and being covered in general). Later, there was a kindergarten in prison, but the child could not go out. Thereafter his play was to hook on something around his waist like a key, and he was becoming a prison guardian. Trying to open the doors, he used to say ‘I will take you to the view.”

After five months of detention, Mrs. Fatma Demir was released due to having eight detainees in her family.

“Normally, when someone is released, all the prisoners used to shout out the name with “released, released” in the yard and send her off with applause. This accustomedness did not apply while I was released. It was as if the bride was leaving her house during her wedding day and she was upset as she was leaving her mother. I was leaving for my freedom; nevertheless, I was leaving my daughter and grandson in prison. I was leaving seven people from my family in prisons as if leaving pieces of my lung out there. Everyone cried then. I looked back, my daughter Esra was waving behind me, and it was very difficult.

After I was released, I started to make a tour of visitations among seven people from my family among Aydın, Muğla, and Denizli cities, which are 1.30 to 2.30 hours away from each other. Since the views are very early in the morning, you have to go to the city a day earlier. It was not that easy, especially for a lady my age. I could only stay at my house in Fethiye once a week, and the rest was always on the roads.”

The state, on the one hand, and by the public on the other, started plundering the wealthy Demir family’s assets and properties. It reminds me of the mobs taking the streets of Istanbul and plundered the non-Muslim Greek, Armenian, Jewish houses on September 6 and 7, 1955.

“They blocked our bank accounts and imposed an interim injunction on our properties; however, the debts continued to grow with interest. When I came out of prison, I started dealing with exorbitant debts.

We recently purchased land on the upland. It was 5.6 acres of land and 1.2 acres of peach garden. Peaches’ quality was fantastic. We just collected from the garden once. When my son-in-law was released after me, we said, ‘Let’s go and collect our peaches so that we can sell and get some money for the debts.’ After we reached there, let alone the peaches, there were not even standing trees. The neighbor, whom we entrust our garden, took his tractor into our garden and cut all the peaches from their roots in order to make a field for himself. He literally destroyed 50 of our peach trees, cut our walnut trees, sold the pears, olives, or poplars. They spoke in the village coffee house that ‘The terrorists purchased that house and land, let’s burn it down!’. They broke the windows of the house and committed a burglary. They dismantled the irrigation system in the garden and took it to their own gardens. A peasant, whom we allowed him to cultivate anything on our 5.6 acres land as he wished, cut our 50 peach trees and several walnut trees. There was a difference as chalk and cheese between our intentions.”

Fatma Demir encounters the fact that her assets were plundered after her release.


“We had a brand new car that we got on for four months only. We were entrusted to a neighbor in the upland and covered it with a tarpaulin in front of our house. While we were in prison, a police officer stole it with a tow truck in front of our house in the upland at night. We became to know that he used our almost brand new car for about a year. He has opened the car’s doors with something like a screwdriver. We though our car was in the gratuitous bailee depot, but a police officer was using it for himself. Everyone was doing something when you are desperate.

We had some unfinished constructions. A man has spent 40.000 Turkish Lira (TL) ($5.700) inside the house, and he wanted 120.000 TL ($17.100) from us. They both transfer our property to National Estate and don’t pay their utility bills and making us pay the debt. I constantly paid debts. I have been dealing in the offices for two years, like the Courthouse, the Debt Enforcement Office, or the Land Registry Office.

They transferred our office building to the National Estate. Our house was a four-story building and was sold out. There were debts to the banks, where doubled a few times with interest. We couldn’t sell anything registered on my husband’s name. We sold the properties or assets that registered on my name. I sold my own house and moved to a rental one. We did not have any business operations in 2017 as we all were in prison, and our properties and asset were imposed an interim injunction; however, they charged us 10.000 TL ($1.426) income taxes and 8.000 TL ($1.140) VAT debts. It became, with interest, 35.000 TL ($5000) for not paying on time. They did not remove the blocks in our accounts, our properties could not be sold, we were all under arrest, we could not collect our receivables, and this inexistent 35.000 TL ($5000) tax debt has been doubled to 78.000 TL ($11.120) with more interest. They have imposed an interim injunction for our whole asset for this 78.000 TL debt, although our total asset worth much more.

They did not allow me to draw my husband’s pension. We worked hard for months to get it. My son-in-law, who is a doctor, tried very hard then. Later on, they said they will send his pension money to PTT (The National Post and Telegraph Directorate of Turkey.), I didn’t understand how it happened. Everyone is doing something among themselves.”

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Human Rights

Human Rights Watch: Allegations of Abduction and Torture Not Investigated in Turkey

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the authorities in Turkey to conduct an effective investigation into the allegations of people who say that they were held in custody and tortured by government agents for many months.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement today (April 29) and requested that the authorities in Turkey urgently carry out an effective investigation into the testimony of a person in pretrial detention who said that state agents forcibly disappeared and tortured him for nine months.

The testimony in question belongs to Gökhan Türkmen. Türkmen, 43, spoke for the first time during a February 10, 2020 court hearing about his abduction, enforced disappearance, and torture. He also said that officials had visited him in prison and threatened him and his family.

“Flagrantly flouting its legal obligations, Turkey has consistently failed to investigate credible evidence of enforced disappearances,” has said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at the HRW:

“The authorities should urgently investigate Türkmen’s allegations that he was abducted, tortured, and pressured to remain silent, and ensure that he and his family are protected against reprisals for speaking out.”

‘Prosecutor said there was no need to investigate’

The HRW has shared the following information about the issue:

“Türkmen disappeared in Antalya on February 7, 2019. His family repeatedly sought information from various authorities about his whereabouts and when met with silence, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

“Türkmen resurfaced in police custody on November 6. An Ankara court sent him to pretrial detention, and he remains in solitary confinement in Ankara’s Sincan F-type Prison No. 1. He is facing charges of espionage and links to the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for the July 2016 coup attempt.

“Türkmen’s lawyer has also filed complaints that men who introduced themselves as National Intelligence Agency (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT) officers have visited him in prison six times since November 15 and threatened him and his family.

“During a March 2020 visit, the men pressured him to retract his allegations about abduction and torture at the February court hearing. On April 16, the Ankara prosecutor issued three decisions saying there was no need to investigate the complaints. Türkmen’s lawyer is appealing.

“His wife told Human Rights Watch that she had faced intimidation from unknown sources who hacked the Twitter account she had set up in her husband’s name to campaign about his whereabouts when he disappeared, and set up a second one also in his name.”

‘Allegations are not investigated’
The HRW has also indicated that “Türkmen, is one of at least two dozen people over the past three years whose families, or in a few cases the individuals themselves, have said they have been abducted and forcibly disappeared by government agents for many months.”

The organization has shared the following information about them:

“All but one are men. HRW has examined 16 such cases since 2017. Turkish authorities have yet to effectively investigate any of them, and a number of families have applied to the European Court of Human Rights for justice. The whereabouts and fate of one man remains unknown.

“Four other men who were forcibly disappeared in February 2019 and resurfaced in police custody in July have remained silent on the full circumstances, although their families lodged multiple complaints with the Turkish authorities and to the European Court of Human Rights.

“The four – Selim Zeybek, Özgür Kaya, Yasin Ugan, and Erkan Irmak – are in pretrial detention in Sincan prison facing prosecution for links with the Gülen movement and espionage.

“A fifth man, Mustafa Yılmaz, abducted in February 2019, resurfaced in police custody in October, and is also in pretrial detention in Sincan prison.

“Another man, Yusuf Bilge Tunç, disappeared in Ankara on August 6, 2019 and his whereabouts remain unknown despite his family’s repeated pleas to the Turkish authorities for information.

“One man, Mesut Geçer, said he was forcibly disappeared in March 2017, and was held for 16 months and repeatedly tortured before being transferred to police custody. Ayten Öztürk has said that in March 2018 she was forcibly disappeared and tortured for over five months before being officially registered in police custody.”

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