The original article “Ordinary Miracles” was published at Al Akhbar English on March 16, 2012.
“An inadequate justice will not bring democracy to this country. Our release from prison does not mean much. The freedom of expression must not be on the agenda only when we discuss the journalists in jail.”
These were the first words arrested journalist Ahmet Şık said minutes after his release following the year-long detention with no solid case against him. He was live on the air at the gate of the prison. Thousands were crying in front of their TV screens. We as people of Turkey, don’t cry about the painful things anymore that we got used to. We cry when we are shaken by rare “miracles” of justice, that actually are supposed to be the norm in a democratic country.
Şık went on to say: “There are over 100 journalists, more than 600 students and more than 6000 KCK (the Kurdish armed movement PKK’s alleged urban branch) detainees in prisons. All these people are political captives. Right at this very moment, I swear that we will carry on our struggle to bring justice to all those people. All the prosecutors, the judges, the intelligence service officials who have links to Fethullah Gülen Movement or the government and who have been plotting against democracy, will be one day detained themselves, in this prison. That will be the day when justice is fully served. I am not blaming the entire movement, but those functioning as a gang to go after the journalists will end up in this prison. The political responsibility lies on the AKP, as the governing party. We will carry on our struggle to create a life which this government is afraid of and which will be free of cruelty or oppression!”
The next morning Nedim Şener, who is the second symbolic name of arrested journalists was live on air at CNNTürk studios. That was the second time thousands were crying within a short span of time. Şener was speaking about what his family had been through during his unfair imprisonment. He was very calm when he was talking about his outrageous detention, during the times of “black propaganda” against him by the journalists who have links to the Fethullah Gülen Movement or the government and all the suffering that he had been through. He was totally calm then. But when it came to his 12-year-old daughter, he could not contain himself.
“They even stripped my daughter. They even checked her underwear. Since the buttons on her clothes were causing the security check machine to beep, they made her take off her skirt in front of everyone. She came in to see me without a skirt,” Şener said.
He couldn’t hold his tears back and that was when Twitter was flooded with curses against this cruelty. Şener pulled himself together only when he remembered his colleagues were still detained in the Silivri Prison: “Müesser Yıldız! She is freezing in that cell. I call on the Ministry of Justice, please do something! Give her an extra blanket at least!”
In today’s Turkey the political war between any opposition and the political authority is taking place in the arena of courts.
With Müesser Yıldız, there are more then 100 journalists in prison who are not as famous as Şener or Şık. But all the fuss that has been created nationally and internationally was enough only to release Şık and Şener (and two more colleagues from the same case).
It is time for the Turkish opposition to learn the names and faces of the other 100 journalist who are mostly Kurdish. The last detainees were Ali Buluş, Hamdullah Keser, and Özlem Agus who one month ago brought to light the rape and torture in Pozantı juvenile prison, which houses mostly Kurdish kids who are prosecuted as terrorists for throwing stones at police forces.
While writing this piece, I went through my latest articles, and realized that I have been writing about the courts, cases, detentions, prosecutions, and little else. It is neither because I am fixated by these issues, nor because my area of interest as a writer is very limited. It is because in today’s Turkey the political war between any opposition and the political authority is taking place in the arena of courts. There is no longer a struggle in the political arena. The political power takes care of every opponent the same way. Their door bell rings in the wee hours of the morning and they are excluded from the public sphere with a court order.
That is why when I spoke with Şık after his release he said: “You should come over as soon as possible. But come very early in the morning. Let’s say for example at 6:00am. So then I will be even more happy to see that it is not the police ringing at my door, but you.”
Then my eyes got teary. So did his. As I said, we in Turkey don’t cry for the pain we face anymore, but for the ordinary miracles that in democratic countries count as everyday life.