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.
Bar Association files criminal complaint over enforced disappearences
Ankara Bar Association compiled a joint study report on seven people who became victims of enforced disappearance in 2019. The report was sent to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s office, along with a criminal complaint.
Mustafa Yılmaz, Salim Zeybek, Özgür Kaya, Gökhan Türkmen, Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan and Yusuf Bilge Tunç were abducted by men with black transporter vans in 2019. Four of them were handed over to the Ankara Police Department after being tortured for six months. The two were similarly given to the police in the 9th month — no word from Yusuf Bilge Tunç.
Many claimed that these people were abducted by government officials and tortured in the area called “Çiftlik (Ranch),” which belongs to the Special Operations Directorate of the National Intelligence Organization. Among them, Salim Zeybek was abducted in front of his wife, Betül Zeybek, and his children. However, the criminal complaints made by neither the Zeybek family nor other families have been adequately pursued by the prosecutors.
Report on enforced disappearances
Ankara Bar Association, Human Rights Center, crafted a report on the issue and filed a criminal complaint with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In the criminal complaint, the studies conducted as a result of the application of the relatives of the abducted were elaborated and following the issuing of the Joint Monitoring Report, it was stated that with the decision of the Ankara Bar Board of Directors dated 05/02/2020, numbered 77/28, it was decided to convey the denouncement to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The criminal complaint stated the following:
“As a result of the researches and evaluations made by Ankara Bar Association Human Rights Center on the alleged enforced disappearances; as applicant Nuray TUNÇ’s husband Yusuf Bilge TUNÇ’s whereabouts are still unknown, an investigation that complies with international standards regarding her complaint needs to be carried out without delay. In terms of other applications, whose relatives have been enforced disappearances for at least five and maximum nine months, and which appeared in the police after the applications, it was determined that the suspected were deprived of the following: rights in the light of the state’s obligation to protect the right to life-related to enforced disappearance and to conduct an effective investigation, the right of everyone accused of crime to have a one-to-one meeting with their lawyers, the right to benefit from the assistance of the advocate of their choice, the right to appear before the judge immediately and the liabilities of the person whose freedom is restricted, having investigations open to public supervision and no investigation was carried out in which victims’ relatives participated in the process.”
In the criminal complaint, which stated that allegations of violations of rights were not duly carried out following the universal standards on rule of law, lawyers demanded from prosecution to deepen the investigation.
“For the reasons explained above and to be considered as ex-officio; We kindly request you to initiate a criminal case against the suspects to be detected in the light of the minutes, reports and documents obtained regarding the allegations of enforced disappearances as a result of the applications received by the Ankara Bar Association.”
The report includes considerations about the relatives’ statements of the abductees and the documents they provided.
The members of the Human Rights Center of the Bar Association went to meet with Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya and Salim Zeybek in Sincan No.1 F Type Prison on August 27, 2019, only to be informed that the prisoners did not want to meet lawyers, and they only met Salim Zeybek. However, the minutes of their meeting with Zeybek were taken away from the lawyers forcefully, and the lawyers were subjected to insults and threats by the prison officials.
Pointing out to the denial of the right to a lawyer to the detainees by the authorities, it was emphasized in the report that the missing persons showed up in police custody in the same way, gave the same statements, had the same physical signs (weakening, distraction, etc.)
The report read that six people have never been able to meet with their families or lawyers alone and that there is a government official in all the meetings, so they have not had the opportunity to explain the torture or violations of their rights.
In the report, while emphasizing the right to hire a lawyer, it was mentioned that the family of the six people refused their lawyers, the impression that this was done as a result of pressure, and the circumstances regarding the lawyers sent to them were suspicious.
In the report, it read that probes into enforced disappearances, and the cases over which victims face trial must be separated: “The probes into the enforced disappearances must be separated from the probes into the alleged criminal acts of the victims. It is paramount that information regarding the probe into enforced disappearances, which are not dangerous to share, disclosed. The family must be notified regarding the development of the case, ensuring their participation in the process.”
Charred teacup serves as souvenir for Kurukoy’s history of torture
It has been three years since the blockade of Turkey’s eastern town of Kurukoy, which saw the torture of 39 people. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu defended the incident. All of the cases were documented. Victims spoke out about what they had experienced.
Nearly three years have passed since the curfew, which took place between February 11 and March 2, 2017, in Kurukoy (Xerabê Bava) of Mardin province. However, what happened during the curfew has not been forgotten despite all the years. Vedia Aykut, whose husband was among those tortured victims, keeps the memories of curfew alive by keeping her house-fire survivor teacup.
Turkish army mounted a large-scale operation in the region in the aftermath of the curfew. Authorities tore down many houses and ancient caves used as barns and storages by locals referring to them as “shelters.” Many animals were killed during the operation. Human Rights Association (IHD) has documented violations in the region and released it to the public.
Thirty-nine locals, who were abducted in the Turkish army’s operations and went missing for long periods, suffered tortures. One of the torture victim Abdi Aykut’s photo affirmed the torture allegations. Governance Office of Mardin and Ministry of Interiors had first denied torture accusations following the emerge of Aykut’s photo. However, Interior Minister Soylu said as to the incident, “We did nothing against the rule of law. That old guy provides shelter to terrorists” in a bid to defend the torture.
Also, three locals lost their lives during the curfew. Although the governor’s office of Mardin claimed those three were killed in a clash with the soldiers, witnesses said they were killed after they were captured alive.
Abdi Aykut, Hatip Tunç, Rıfat Bayhan, Behçet Koçan, İsmail Ay, Abdülmecit Bal and Vasfi Doğan were arrested by a local court on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization” following the Interior Minister Soylu’s remarks on the incident. The court released them six months later in the first hearing. They were acquitted of all charges later on, and the court condemned Interior Minister to pay TL 18 bin (roughly the equivalent to $3 thousand) in damage.
The traces of destruction- left behind the curfew which stirred a significant public discontent- remain intact. Even though locals restored some of the damage houses with the help of some civil society organizations, most of the curfew-torn houses are still waiting for reparations. They keep alive what they suffered by storing ammunition and detonators left after the curfew in sacks and garden walls covered with bullets.
Aykut, who was subjected to torture in custody, also bears traces of what he went through. After noting his being unable to overcome the psychological trauma of the incident and his aggravated health problems, Aykut said he hadn’t seen anything when they had taken him into custody. He said he retains what remained from those days in his home, even though memories of those days make him feel terrible. He also added that he has no desire to talk about anything regarding them.
Aykut’s wife, Vedia Aykut, also revealed that all their furniture was burnt down together with their home in the curfew period. She said she has been keeping her kids’ burned phones and a smudgy teacup and teaspoon, which were the only items left unburned from blazes.
“Every part of our houses was already burnt when we arrived. It became as black as coal. All around here was looking like coal until we cleaned up. They burned down our house. We had to sleep apart from our kids. My daughter and I stayed alone here for eight months. This teacup was left all alone here. Every place became like this teacup. I lived with this grief for eight months. I will never forget it as long as I live. What I witnessed will always be in my mind,” she said.
Spouse of businessman Medeni Arifoğlu, who succumbed to cancer, reveals murder by negligence
Medeni Arifoglu was one of the best-known businessmen in Turkey’s eastern province of Bingöl. He was awarded in 2012 by the then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his contributions to the city’s economy. He was also a financial consultant. Turkish authorities froze all his assets in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016 and sent him to prison. He faced violation of his rights in prison even when his appendix burst.
He was not allowed to see a doctor for three weeks. He told his wife how he banged on the door and crawled to the infirmary while shouting, “I am dying” to get help.
Arifoğlu had already had health problems when he was jailed due to liver transplantation he had undergone before prison. The violations that he suffered in prison grew more intense after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in July 2018. He was facing “exceptional cruelty” as pro-Kurdish MP and human right defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said. He shuttled back and forth between Malatya (a south-eastern province) and the prison of Adana due to the lack of patient room for inmates. One day his condition took a turn for the worse, and he refused all treatments by saying, “Leave me be, I want to die.”
Arifoğlu, a father of three, was released in March 2019 from prison after great efforts by Gergerlioğlu and his wife, but there was nothing left to do. Businessman Arifoğlu passed away on January 25, 2020. His wife Nuran Arifoğlu said in an exclusive interview with Bold news, “My husband was released but, they put him on a path leading to death. They gave us a funeral. He died in suffering”.
Arifoğlu was arrested two times and sentenced to 7 years and six months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. His case was before an appeal court.
Here is his wife’s account of events when she took care of him for 35 days under the surveillance of four soldiers, one commander, and one warden:
“He underwent transplantation of liver in 2012”
“My husband was taken into custody on July 25, 2016, and put in the prison of Bingöl three days later. They transferred him to the prison of Malatya 20 days after. Then, his life in prison got worse. They made life miserable for him in prison. They threw him into a prison cell and did not let him go to the hospital, and he returned from the edge of death many
times. He suffered from several health problems during his time in the Malatya prison. He started having health problems stemming from liver transplantation he had in 2012. He was released two and a half months later but re-arrested three and half months after his release. He suffered seizures, extreme loss of weight, exhaustion. He could barely show up for prison visits. He was always sick.”
“The doctor said he faces a risk of organ loss”
“I submitted applications to many authorities because of his health condition. I sought a lot of help. Because I knew that my husband could not survive with those health problems. He was transferred to Turgut Özal Hospital in Malatya. The doctor who performed the liver transplantation surgery said he would lose his liver if he remains in prison.
“We learned that he was hospitalized when we went to prison visit. We rushed to the hospital, but we couldn’t see him. I’ve seen some of Gergerlioglu’s pieces of writings. I wrote to him, and he returned quickly. He voiced our situation in parliament. MP from Batman province Mehmet Ali Alsan also addressed it in the parliament.”
“He was taking 19 pills in a day”
“My husband was supposed to take 19 pills a day. He had taken 17 pills initially, and then, he started taking two anti-depressants. He said his condition was heading for worse. He was taken back to prison after having stayed in intensive care for 21 days. Prison turned into a nightmare for him. He could no longer go out for a walk and barely made it to prison visits. It continued like this for long.
“They took him to a hospital in July 2018, and a five cm-tumor was spotted in his kidney. But they did not inform him about it. He kept saying he could not sleep due to intense pain. We were helpless. We had no one but Gergerlioğlu to ask for help. He did whatever he could do. When he was retaken to hospital in November 2018, they said the tumor reached a size of 8 cm.”
“Tumour became 14 cm in five days”
“We were told that they would take him to Balcalı hospital in Adana for kidney surgery. We did not want him to be taken there, but we were relieved a bit in thinking that he would get better after surgery. The doctor in Balcalı hospital said he could not operate due to the lack
of patient room special for inmates. I traveled between Malatya and Adana to see him. I found his condition to get worse in each visit. He was feeling very cold. He put on a goose-down jacket. He said he was freezing and sleeping with it. I couldn’t convince anyone that he could no longer live under these conditions. 50 days passed like this.”
“Leave me alone; I want to die”
“They took him back to prison. He was saying, ‘I want no longer to live, leave me alone, I do not want treatment. Because you are not sincere in treatment. If you care for me, then take me to the hospital.’ He could not take the risk of going again to the hospital for nothing because they did not assure him of receiving treatment. We learned that my husband was
brought back to Malatya since he refused treatments in Adana.”
Cancer blew up a bone in his neck
“We became happy when he returned to Malatya. Since Turgut Özal medical center was going to perform the surgery and it was where he had been operated before. But they made him wait for 20 days. He was taken a few times to emergency to ease his pain with painkillers but, cancer developed metastases. It blew a bone up in his neck, his arm could no longer function, and he couldn’t walk. He was in terrible condition, in other words. His appearance took a gut-wrenching turn.
He was put in hospital after great efforts. Tumors in his neck were removed; however, it was too late for his kidney. Tumors spread to main arteries, and doctors said he might not wake up if they operate on him. So, they refused the operation. His other organs were also targeted by the cancer cell. All this happened in 6-7 months. I took care of him for 35 days, along with four soldiers, one commander and one
warden I went to see the prosecutor after the operation on his neck. I asked for permission to tend him in the hospital. I said, please do not consider my request too much; let me be at his bedside. The prosecutor accepted my request. I was trying to take care of him all day long
in the presence of four soldiers, one commander, and warden.
“Although the Institute of Forensic Sciences had refused all our previous requests as saying, “There was no issue for him to stay in prison,” it granted this time a delay of execution for six months. But it was already too late. There was no use in releasing him at this point. When a tumor in his neck was removed, it spread to his brain and throughout the body.”
“He had longed for having a conversation with his kids”
“We couldn’t see any smile on his face after his release. All he wished for was talking with his kids. But he never could do it. He was praying for being able to live 2-3 years more to do something for his kids. This happened neither. He knew he was going to die. He had some wishes and desires. But it was all over. It was too late for my husband; arrangements should be put in place for other sick inmates.
“The reason I am voicing our victimhood is that there are 1334 sick prisoners, pregnant mothers, and babies behind bars, as I know. Those sick inmates could not survive prison under those conditions. I saw myself how my husband wasted away in three years. I watched how his eyes faded away, and his death came closer every week. There are so few patients surviving cancer, and this is only possible with high motivation and spirit. This is not possible in prison. It was too late for my husband, they released him too late, and justice for his death is left for the afterlife. For God’s sake, some arrangements must be made for other sick prisoners.”
Nuran Arifoğlu described his husband’s first times in prison when his appendix burst, his last days, his funeral and her kids on our first phone conversations:
“He was kept waiting for three weeks when his appendix burst. He was poisoned, but nothing happened due to the antibiotics he took. He told me later on, “Nuran; they saw me crawling on cameras. I went upstairs to the infirmary by crawling and told them I was dying”. They scolded him for banging on the door. They took him to a hospital, and my
husband was put in the intensive care unit right away. They did not let me wait at the door of the unit, things that others are allowed to do have become a crime for me.”
“Those calling him traitor came to his funeral”
“I was leaving his patient room together with the soldiers at night. His time in intensive care was the most difficult for us. One day when I was sitting next to his bed, I heard the commander saying they would discharge him from the hospital. It drove me crazy. They made the doctor discharge him. I started yelling, and I said I wasn’t going to let my husband be discharged, even you put a bullet in my head. I have pictures of him showing which condition he was in when they discharged him.
“Chemotherapies did not work afterward. We heard about a smart drug and went to Hacettepe University. However, they couldn’t use it on my husband because of his liver transplantation history. He was given another chemotherapy treatment, but he passed away before completing the procedure. We were at Elazığ University hospital for his last five days. We were just sitting at his bedside and praying.
“Those who were shouting “Death to Medeni Arifoğlu” in Democracy Watches following the coup attempt were present in his post-funeral reception. My husband was chosen as the sacrifice of this city.”
“My daughter was diagnosed with heart failure”
“My daughter developed heart failure in traveling for prison visits. His father wanted her to study law, and she is now a 21 years old law student. My son is 15 years old, and he is in high school now. My husband’s only dream was to have a conversation with his kids at the
same table. He could not pass a single night without pain.”