On July 6th, the media trum­pet­ed a mur­der com­mit­ted by two men. Emani al-Rah­mun, a Syr­i­an refugee liv­ing with her hus­band Halid and ten-month old baby Halaf in Kay­nar­ca, Sakarya dis­trict, was raped and killed with her baby. The young woman was also nine months pregnant.

The authors of the crime were arrest­ed. They are Birol Kara­cal and Cemal Bay, employed in the same poul­try pro­cess­ing plant as the hus­band Halid al-Rah­mun. The two men admit­ted their crime.

Fol­low­ing an argu­ment with Halid al-Rah­mun on the night shift, Birol Kara­cal et Cemal Bay, took unau­tho­rized leave of their work and head­ed to al-Rahmun’s home. They used a crow­bar to break op »n the door, made their way into the apart­ment where they knocked out Emani and stran­gled her ten-month old baby Halaf because he was cry­ing. They bun­dled up Emani and the baby’s corpse in a blan­ket and drove them out to a wood­ed zone. After rap­ing the young woman, they killed her by smash­ing her head in with a stone. They fled, aban­don­ing the bodies.

On com­ing home at 07h00 to accom­pa­ny his wife to her med­ical appoint­ment, Halid al-Rah­mun found the premis­es bro­ken into and his wife and child miss­ing. He went to the police and declared he had been threat­ened by Birol Kara­cal and Cemal Bay fol­low­ing an argu­ment. Birol Kara­cal, a mar­ried man and the father of one child and Cemal Bay a bach­e­lor, were tak­en into cus­tody and con­fessed to the crimes. Cemal Bay had a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for sex­u­al assault on a men­tal­ly hand­i­capped woman. The mur­der­ers accused one anoth­er for the kid­nap­ping and the mur­der, and con­fessed they had want­ed to bury the bod­ies but the earth had been too hard, and also that they intend­ed to kill Halid al-Rah­mun. With day break­ing, they had « delayed » their plan. Emani and Halaf’s bod­ies were found in the wood­ed area, hid­den under branch­es and twigs.

So much for a sor­did tale with all the mak­ings of the sen­sa­tion­al kind of news Turk­ish sum­mer edi­tions of media at the government’s beck and call latched onto greed­i­ly. Even the oppo­si­tion and alter­na­tive press relayed the infor­ma­tion as an iso­lat­ed case. So why would Kedis­tan fol­low in their steps in describ­ing this hor­ror ? The answer is in anoth­er arti­cle ; shift­ing atten­tion from the sor­did to the func­tion­ing of a press at the ser­vice of the AKP regime, it throws anoth­er light on men­tal manip­u­la­tions, includ­ing those prac­ticed in the report­ing of a crime.

This is why we pub­lish here a trans­la­tion of Esra Arsan’s arti­cle, pub­lished by Evrensel on July 14th 2017.

Emani al-Rahmun’s Unknown Story

Emani ‘s name appeared in the media as that of « the Syr­i­an woman ». News reports head­lined : « The Preg­nant Syr­i­an Woman Was Mur­dered », or spoke of her as « The preg­nant Syr­i­an woman and her 10 month-old baby in Kay­nar­ca, Sakarya”.

Her name is Emani al-Rah­mun. She was 20 years old. A Syr­i­an refugee. One of those women war vic­tims who fled the civ­il war in their coun­try. Exiled, she took refuge in Turkey. Her hus­band worked in a poul­try pro­cess­ing plant.

The fact Emani al-Rah­mun and her ten-month old baby were sav­age­ly mas­sa­cred by two neigh­bors made the head­lines and was report­ed as an atro­cious and iso­lat­ed act. Yes, the case is atro­cious but it is any­thing but iso­lat­ed. Emani al-Rahmun’s sto­ry is also that of many oth­er women refugees in Turkey. And this sto­ry isn’t over yet, it car­ries on with all its atroc­i­ty and vio­lence. Let’s take a look in the mir­ror. The per­se­cu­tion to which were sub­ject­ed Emani and her fam­i­ly should not con­sist of a break­ing-news flash for a few days only to be for­got­ten. Emani al-Rah­mun ‘s real sto­ry has not been written.

Out of suf­fer­ing, we have cre­at­ed a business

Accord­ing to pub­lished fig­ures, approx­i­mate­ly one mil­lion Syr­i­an refugees are in Turkey. 75% of them are women and chil­dren. Most of the refugees are in towns such as Kilis, Gaziantep, Hatay, Adana, Mersin, İst­anb­ul. For years now, infor­ma­tion has come out of those towns, one after the oth­er, con­cern­ing the vio­lence, abuse and aggres­sions tar­get­ing these women and chil­dren. They are sub­ject­ed to phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, social, eco­nom­ic and sex­u­al vio­lence. Child mar­riages, lit­tle girls «leased out » to the land­lord to pay the rent, women trans­formed into sex work­ers through short-term mar­riages, child labor­ers exploit­ed with the use of phys­i­cal force, Syr­i­an women bought and sold as sec­ond or third wife…All these are sto­ries of Emani al-Rahmun.

In 2014 (jour­nal­ist) Amberin Zaman pub­lished an arti­cle. In Nizip, a 22 year old woman, moth­er of 3 chil­dren and work­ing as a clean­ing lady was sold by her col­league to a man who pre­sent­ed him­self as a mem­ber of the secu­ri­ty forces. After con­fis­cat­ing the woman’s iden­ti­ty papers, he raped her and threat­ened to « com­mer­cial­ize » her to oth­er men. This case is men­tionned in reports of inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions. A woman in Rey­han­lı tes­ti­fies : “My Syr­i­an neigh­bor mar­ried off his 14 year old daugh­ter to a 40 year old Turk­ish man. The man kept the girl with him for two months, then he gave her back to the fam­i­ly. » Mar­riages of Syr­i­an chil­dren to old­er Turk­ish men are arranged through orga­nized net­works of go-betweens. These go-betweens com­mer­cial­ize to Turk­ish men chil­dren under 18 years as well as Syr­i­an woman who have reached their major­i­ty. These are mar­riages that last a month, at most…Sales of women as sec­ond or third wife. All these real­i­ties reveal the con­text for Emani el-Rahmun’s atro­cious massacre.

Let us recall the words of Raja Altal­li, a Syr­i­an activist work­ing Gaziantep : “We know the pros­ti­tu­tion exists. We recent­ly heard of a men­tal­ly hand­i­capped Syr­i­an refugee who was com­mer­cial­ized in Kilis. But as these are sen­si­tive top­ics, no one wants to talk. »

Lawyer Seçil Erpo­lat, a mem­ber of Batman’s Bar Asso­ci­a­tion Com­mis­sion on women’s rights explains how, in Bat­man, young Syr­i­an girls are mar­ried off in reli­gious cer­e­monies arranged by bro­kers. She shows how all this has become a busi­ness and how the refugees are abused in this fash­ion : “In one of the cas­es of which we are aware, a Syr­i­an refugee was cho­sen out of a cat­a­log of women’s pho­tos pro­vid­ed at a gas sta­tion in Nusay­bin, and mar­ried off as sec­ond wife, for 1000 or 2000 Turk­ish lira [some 250 or 500€]. The woman had fled from the house of the man to whom she was mar­ried off, and also from the vio­lence to which she had been sub­ject­ed by her first hus­band. She took refuge at some­one else’s home. Offi­cial orga­ni­za­tions trans­ferred her to Hatay, then to a shel­ter in Ankara. In anoth­er instance, a 16 year old Syr­i­an girl was pur­chased by a 60 year old man, already mar­ried, for 10 000 Turk­ish lira [ 2500€]. Brought to the GAP neigh­bor­hood, the child refused to enter the old man’s house and man­aged to escape. Peo­ple in the neigh­bor­hood called the police who took the child into custody. »

Infor­ma­tion, not on a day-by-day basis, but in the long-term

No, Emani al-Rahmun’s sto­ry has not been writ­ten. For this sto­ry isn’t over yet. The file has not been closed with the trans­fer of Emani and her babies’ remains to Syr­ia. This file is still open, with all its vio­lence and its gravity.

Wait­ing for anoth­er case of rape and atro­cious vio­lence to pro­duce infor­ma­tion is not jour­nal­ism. The mis­treat­ment Syr­i­an refugees suf­fer in Turkey con­sti­tutes a big infor­ma­tion and research file that deserves days and days of writ­ing. The per­se­cu­tions, vio­lences, agres­sions and rapes of Syr­i­an refugees in our coun­try, do not con­sti­tute « a sad­ly human dra­ma » for, in each case, their per­pe­tra­tors are known. So are the orga­ni­za­tions attempt­ing to pro­tect the refugees. The crime is hap­pen­ing in full day­light. But no one is con­demned. This state of impuni­ty facil­i­tates and increas­es the cas­tas­tro­phies that befall the Emani al-Rahmuns.

Emani al-Rahmun’s mur­der is not a crime that should be attrib­uted sole­ly to two per­sons. It is part of a much more orga­nized and struc­tur­al crime. Those who com­mit this crime, those who clear the way for them, those who legit­imize the crime, those who prof­it from it, those who shut their eyes and ears and pre­tend they see noth­ing, those who accuse the vic­tim, all of them, par­tic­i­pate in this crime. And there­in lies a big prob­lem. There is infor­ma­tion to bring to light, and it requires research. We do not want jour­nal­ists to write arti­cles, iso­lat­ing this « sad­ly dai­ly » case, as if they con­sti­tut­ed sur­pris­es out of which to pro­duce teary infor­ma­tion. We expect them to pro­duce respon­si­ble jour­nal­ism, jour­nal­istm that pro­tects the rights of those refugees who are in our coun­try to flee the war. Instead of infor­ma­tion trans­form­ing the atro­cious cas­es of Syr­i­an refugees into sen­sa­tion­al flash­es, we expect infor­ma­tion on the prob­lems they expe­ri­ence in our coun­try, we would like to see infor­ma­tion that delves deeply into the legal, eco­nom­ic, police and polit­i­cal dimen­sions behind this spi­ral of violence.

Hencer­forth, this is dif­fi­cult in Turkey, but across the world, there exists numer­ous uni­ver­si­ty researchers work­ing on the top­ic of Syr­i­an refugees. In Turkey and in oth­er coun­tries, there exist sev­er­al NGOs that put togeth­er reports on the liv­ing con­di­tions of refugees and vic­tims of forced exile. There exist reports, records, doc­u­ments, women’s rights orga­ni­za­tions, Bar asso­ci­a­tions and com­pi­la­tions of tes­ti­monies by refugees. Any jour­nal­ist who so wish­es can eas­i­ly access these doc­u­ment and reports, and can reveal Emani el-Rahmun’s unknown story.

We are look­ing for real jour­nal­ists who will write the real sto­ry of what Syr­i­an refugees, women and chil­dren are sub­ject­ed to in Turkey.

Esra Arsan

No doubt it is futile to ask medias under gov­ern­men­tal orders to do this work when they are noth­ing but the sec­ond skin of the AKP regime. We might even add that, in what still sub­sists under con­stance surveillance,of medias « under pro­ba­tion», the top­ic of « Syr­i­an refugees » surfed on a xeno­pho­bic wave for a while, when the Reis announced a year ago he want­ed to extend Turk­ish cit­i­zen­ship to some of them. We react­ed to that wave, com­ing from the nation­al­ists, and that found echos among the Repub­li­can Kemalists…

Xeno­pho­bic and racist appeals cir­cu­late con­stant­ly on social media plat­forms. Some lead to exac­tions in the poor dis­tricts where refugees are con­cen­trat­ed, and could degen­er­ate into pogroms. On a back­ground of exac­er­bat­ed nation­al­ism, fake news, rumors spead and retrans­mit­ted cre­ate a con­text favor­able to scape­goat­ing in the grow­ing finan­cial cri­sis. This con­text, that Esra Arsan only hints at, since her top­ic is more that of the exploita­tion of human beings, women and chil­dren in par­tic­u­lar, increas­es fears « real jour­nal­ists » may have about research­ing and writ­ing about the long-term.

When accom­pa­nied by an iden­ti­tar­i­an form of pop­ulism, nation­al­is­tic racism and xeno­pho­bia are one of the instru­ments to pre­serve polit­i­cal pow­er. The Reis know how to play with it, blow­ing hot and cold. When racists objec­ti­fy oth­ers, in a strong­ly patri­ar­cal soci­ety to boot, they allow the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of women’s bod­ies, reduc­ing them to « object of abuse » with no con­sid­er­a­tion giv­en to moral­i­ty or reli­gion, as has always been the case for slav­ery and the trans­for­ma­tion of humans into noth­ing but a work force.

Once the oth­er is « racial­ly pro­filed» and the ori­gin of his exile negat­ed, cheap labor and sex­u­al exploita­tion can pro­ceed unabat­ed in this Turkey con­sid­ered as a « safe haven» accord­ing to the cur­rent Euro­pean agree­ments on migrants.

French ver­sion : Emani al-Rah­mun, ton his­toire reste à écrire…

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