Since Jan­u­ary 29 2019, fem­i­nist jour­nal­ist Ayşe Düzkan is impris­oned in Istan­bul’s Bakırköy jail. She was sen­tenced to 18 months in prison for hav­ing expressed sol­i­dar­i­ty for the news­pa­per Özgür Gün­dem, which was for­bid­den and closed by a decree with force of law, on April 16 2016. For these same actions of sol­i­dar­i­ty scores of jour­nal­ists, authors, aca­d­e­mics and lawyers such as Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay and Eren Keskin have also been prosecuted.

ayse duzkanAyşe Düzkan had been unable to write one of her columns for Artı Gerçek since Jan­u­ary 30 2019. On the last col­umn writ­ten just before her incar­cer­a­tion she had called to write to impris­oned jour­nal­ists, and sup­port them. Her title: “Let­ter to jour­nal­ists we could not meet…” (Tanış­madığımız gazete­cilere mek­t­up…)

Fol­low­ing a long sep­a­ra­tion from her read­ers, she sent this text writ­ten in jail. The col­umn was pub­lished on March 30 2019 on Artı Gerçek.

We are more than hap­py to share it in translation.

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Recent­ly the soli­tary dove from the prom­e­nade brought back a part­ner to my win­dow. Both lin­gered for a while. Our bud­dy drank a bit of rain­wa­ter that had accu­mu­lat­ed in the lid from a jar of yogurt I had put out in front of the win­dow, to keep her from mop­ing. The oth­er one took up a post on the clothes line. There was no con­tact between the two, except for a very brief touch­ing of the beaks. Short­ly after, they both flew away.

Hon­est­ly, I expe­ri­enced a dis­ap­point­ment. In the ani­mal realm, is not the dove  in charge of love and affection?

The rais­ing of budgie birds is autho­rized in jail. In fact, I saw bags of bird seed and sand in the can­teen. (In his book The ene­my on the bridge, Murat Türk who con­sumed a quar­ter cen­tu­ry of his life in jail, tells a mov­ing tale about budgies.)

I don’t have much in com­mon with birds.  And yet, among many oth­er things, this makes me nos­tal­gic here: ani­mals. I don’t mean the per­sons of feline ori­gin with whom I lived on the out­side, who fig­ure in the cat­e­gorie of per­sons I miss, but dogs in a hur­ry, as if they were try­ing to make on time to an appoint­ment, the seri­ous tiger­ish street cats, the lazy red­heads, the play­ful kittens…

Com­ing back inside from sports the oth­er day, I met a cat in the cor­ri­dor whom I guessed was a mem­ber of the staff appoint­ed to mice elim­i­na­tion. But he had the pon­der­ous air of a civ­il ser­vant and ignored me. But being here has its pos­i­tive aspects. No need to run back and forth in search of work, for exam­ple. Plus…there are no mes­sages arriv­ing from groups on WhatsApp.

More­over, I say this to make Istan­bul habi­tants envi­ous: there is no Metrobus.1

As if all this were not suf­fi­cient, dis­cus­sions about the elec­tions are few and far between. For exam­ple, there are no “if vot­ing changed some­thing…“Because most of us – the con­demned ones – do not have the right to vote. Don’t mis­un­der­stand me, this makes a huge dif­fer­ence. For this same rea­son, there isn’t a prob­lem such as “on June 25th, I had sworn I would nev­er vote again…What shall I do?”  But there is the antic­i­pa­tion of end­ing the month, the joy and pride of March the 8th, the hope of “let’s wait and see this time…”, the pro­tec­tion of trav­el­ling com­pan­ions, account­ing that over­takes one when alone…dreaming, imagining…and a  feel­ing of free­dom the mys­tery of which I can­not fathom.

Ayşe Düzkan

To read the author’s oth­er arti­cles (in Turk­ish) on Artı Gerçek, click

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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