Letter from prison: ‘Today’s war is about trying to read fewer books’

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“There is no television, newspaper or radio. There is paper, pen, one book and the voices of comrades coming from the air well and hall. Sleeping for six hours, I try to spend the remaining 18 hours in the best way possible with my means. If I read more than 100 pages a day, I finish my book before I have to return it. Today’s war is about trying to read less.

“There are several things that remind one of modern life. Warm water flowing from the faucet 24/7 and electrically powered water heater…

“On the second day of my imprisonment, I caught myself dreaming of a vacuum cleaner to remove the spider’s webs on the wall. Then, I have forbidden myself from having small dreams.”

Discharged from public service by a Statutory Decree, academic Nuriye Gülmen has shared her story of arrest with bianet.

This letter, in fact, left her prison cell five days after she was arrested on August 11; however, it was brought back to her prison cell without any reasons. The letter could reach bianet a month later.

Nuriye Gülmen says, “I know that these attempts of terrorization, these imprisonments will pass. What will remain is our struggle that we have woven together in blood, sweat and tears and that we have been keeping up inside and outside and under any circumstances.”

She ends her letter in following words: “Don’t forget me. I am waiting for your friendly greetings and letters.”

‘I would be moving on with my ordinary life’

Nuriye Gülmen was taken into custody on August 5 in the İdil Cultural Center, where Grup Yorum music band has been conducting its activities in İstanbul. Held in detention for seven days, Gülmen was arrested. She is now in Silivri No. 9 Prison at the outskirts of the city.

Referring to her detention in the İdil Cultural Center, Gülmen says, “The fact that we were taken into custody and arrested just because we were in a cultural center any day will come as no surprise to anyone who -more or less- keeps up with the political developments in Turkey.”

Gülmen also adds in her letter: “One does not help thinking that if I had left the İdil Cultural Center 10 minutes earlier, I would be now moving on with my ordinary life. In fact, my ordinary life is full of extraordinary things brought about by the system. If I had managed to leave the İdil Cultural Center on August 5, I would have first attended the press statement to be held for my dear attorneys Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, then I would have paid the visits that I could not during the feast and I would have gone to see one of the families of Çorlu Train massacre.

“At night, I would have welcomed Şerif Mesutoğlu’s dear wife Saime, who came from Mardin for the justice watch that we would keep in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse the next day. My ordinary life was interrupted by special operations police who came up against me with long-barreled weapons in their hands and called on me to ‘lie on the ground’.”

‘Why am I in detention?’

During her interrogation at court, the first question the judge asked her was why she was in the İdil Cultural Center:

“It can be said that it was a good first question to be asked to a person who had been detained because she was in a cultural center. But, actually, it is not. The right question should be this:

“Why was I detained with weapons pointed to my face, forced to lie on the ground and dragged on the floor by special operations police and why do I now have to explain my reasons for being in a legal institution?

“Because the political police saw it fit to do it. Because they saw it fit to raid the institution as ‘some wanted persons might have been there’, ‘some ammunition was possibly there’ and ‘a call was made for a banned concert.’

“I think the political police themselves would admit that it was a bad plot. They do not need a good plot after all. They write the script themselves and perform it themselves anyway and they have several channels that are eagerly waiting for this play and would cover it with pleasure.

“The ammunition and the wanted persons could not be found in the end. The preparations for the banned concert were ongoing at full pace. Then, why am I in detention?”

‘They have both the test booklet and answer key’

During the interrogation, Gülmen talked about “the Resistances Assembly, how it was founded and ‘We Demand Justice’ Platform.” She said that she was in the İdil Cultural Center for an interview before the Grup Yorum concert and the preparation for a radio program:

“Then the past was raked up. The irrational allegation that I staged a hunger strike upon the instruction of the organization and ended it in the same way…. The familiar question of ‘men’ in official clothes and gowns who do not know what it means to reject food for the sake of a demand and have probably never been hungry in their lives…

“I do not know for how many times I said that it was not possible to go hungry upon instruction and talked about my own experience with hunger.

“When the question is wrong, the answer cannot be right no matter which option you choose. Because both the test booklet and answer key are in their hands. The interrogation ended and I was arrested due to flight risk abroad…” (AS/SD)


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