Gülis­tan Doku, a young Kur­dish woman study­ing at Mun­zur Uni­ver­si­ty in Der­sim has dis­ap­peared since Sun­day Jan­u­ary 5 2020.

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The last images filmed by secu­ri­ty cam­eras show Gülis­tan climb­ing aboard a minibus after talk­ing with her ex boyfriend Zey­nal Abarok, a young man of Russ­ian ori­gin. But she is not seen step­ping out again. There are no fur­ther traces of the young woman…

On the Sat­ur­day, eve of her dis­ap­pear­ance, Zay­nal had vio­lent­ly forced Gülis­tan to climb into a vehicle.

Zey­nal Abarok is sus­pect num­ber one, but he is the son-in-law of a police­man. Gülis­tan’s fam­i­ly, wom­en’s asso­ci­a­tions and those defend­ing human rights sus­pect the police and the regime of want­i­ng to pro­tect this sus­pect and, by delay­ing the launch­ing of search­es, of offer­ing him the pos­si­bil­i­ty of going into hid­ing, abroad if need be. Yet the pre­fec­ture claims that Abarok is in Turkey and under judi­cia­ry control…with no fur­ther details.

Dirayet Dilan Taşdemir, spokesper­son for the wom­en’s coun­cils of the Peo­ples Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP), speak­ing about Gülis­tan made the fol­low­ing dec­la­ra­tion in Der­sim: “In a region where not only peo­ple but moun­tains are searched with a fine tooth comb, a woman remains untraceable.”

The police would be con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of sui­cide. Search­es were con­duct­ed in the waters of the lake at Uzunçayır damn, at the lev­el of the bridge to Dinar, since two minibus dri­vers declared see­ing her there. Still fol­low­ing this ver­sion of a sui­cide, police inten­si­fied search­es in the zone and declared hav­ing found in the water a pre­scrip­tion in her name along with a pair of scis­sors Gülis­tan had bor­rowed from a friend.

Gülis­tan’s sis­ter, Aygül Doku, says the fam­i­ly rejects the the­sis of sui­cide: “Are those real­ly Gülis­tan’s scis­sors? The police says maybe, they are not sure.” She says a note was found in her sis­ter’s stu­dent room where Gülis­tan men­tions being messy, “friends, if I die, make up my bed and tidy up my room so no one can say I’m messy, ha ha ha!” But her friends explained to her sis­ter that the note was writ­ten last year as a joke between friends. Aygül informed the media that, ten min­utes before going to see her ex boyfriend, Gülis­tan had called a friend and asked to see her that same evening. Then, she called her pro­fes­sor to say she would be work­ing on her exam and could not babysit. She also men­tions that Gülis­tan had bought mate­ri­als in order to pre­pare for the admis­sion tests as a civ­il ser­vant (KPPS).

Since her dis­ap­pear­ance, Gülis­tan’s case and the demands of her suf­fer­ing fam­i­ly are sup­port­ed by asso­ci­a­tions and activists fight­ing against vio­lences per­pe­trat­ed on women, all ask­ing in one voice “Where is Gülis­tan Doku?” This ques­tion has res­onat­ed across the coun­try dur­ing sev­er­al demon­stra­tions and gath­er­ings as well as on social net­works and in the media.

As for the Pre­fec­ture in Der­sim, it has announced the pro­hi­bi­tion of demon­stra­tions for Gülis­tan. In oth­er words, it would now be for­bid­den to ask: “Where is Gülis­tan Doku?”

This could appear to be one among many minor news items. But here is an excerpt from a col­umn by Ley­la Alp, pub­lished on T24 on Jan­u­ary 17:

We know for Atiye, but where is Gülistan Doku?

A few years ago, Garo Pay­lan (HDP deputy of Armen­ian ori­gin) who was par­tic­i­pat­ing in the show Mer­cek Altı on IMC TV [pri­or to its shut­ting down by decree] had said that the first thing that comes to the mind of an Armen­ian moth­er when her child comes home wound­ed, beat­en up, is not the pos­si­bil­i­ty he fell while play­ing in the street. For these nor­mal par­ents, see­ing the child’s scraped knees or his split eye­brow cer­tain­ly rais­es con­cern. But in an Armen­ian fam­i­ly, see­ing the scraped knees is a reminder of trau­ma. In no way is it an unwar­rant­ed worry.

His­to­ry is a reminder. His­to­ry is a wound.

The same thing applies for any per­son treat­ed like a sec­ond class citizen.

For exam­ple, in coun­tries such as ours, a woman can­not eas­i­ly take off just like that, on a whim, to go some­where. You won’t see this hap­pen­ing such as in an ad for a TV filmed around Atiye of the pop­u­lar series “a woman, today, some­where, turns her back on every­thing, and takes off on her trip.” In this coun­try, almost 90% of women nev­er take the road of their own sto­ry. They do not dis­ap­pear with­out telling any­one. You won’t come across women who come back after dis­ap­pear­ing for sev­er­al days and who say “I left to find myself, now I’m back.” Even in order to find them­selves, in this coun­try, women stick togeth­er. Because they live in con­stant fear that if they leave for some­where else, “some­thing could hap­pen” to them.

Because in this coun­try, women com­ing home late from work, keep look­ing at what’s behind them. In this coun­try, when women board a taxi, they text the licence plate num­ber to their friends. Because in this coun­try, every day, one or sev­er­al women are kid­napped, raped, beat­en, killed…

We, in this coun­try, can­not believe that when a woman leaves a sui­cide note, she kills her­self. Because we have wit­nessed the fact that women who were announced as hav­ing thrown them­selves from such or such a storey, had been pushed. Sule Çet was one of them. “She jumped”, her assas­sin said, if you remem­ber. The stu­dent who killed (his teacher) Ceren Damar can go on insist­ing, despite so many wit­ness­es, “we had a relationship.”

This is why when a woman is report­ed miss­ing, the first thing that comes to our mind is not an adven­ture, but vio­lence, not sui­cide, but mur­der. This is why for fam­i­lies and friends, the min­utes become hours, the hours months, years… Time stretch­es out. You knock on every door. You lend an ear to every voice. Atiye’s sto­ry may go on dis­play­ing itself on Net­flix, TV man­u­fac­tur­ers may con­tin­ue mak­ing ads on “wom­en’s free­dom”, since Jan­u­ary 5 there have been no news of Gülis­tan Doku, 21 year old stu­dent. Gülis­tan has dis­ap­peared for 12 days [Jan­u­ary 17, the day Ley­la Alp’s arti­cle was published].

Her fam­i­ly who has been with­out news of Gülis­tan Doku, 2nd years Ped­a­gogy stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mun­zur has called upon all offi­cial author­i­ties. Gülis­tan’s friend is the son of a police­man. With such a con­fig­u­ra­tion, does not the sit­u­a­tion become wor­ri­some? Because our eyes have seen before how sev­er­al men who prac­ticed vio­lence were cleared by “acquain­tances” in the police, or the evi­dence against them disguised.

Aygül Doku, Gülis­tan’s sis­ter, fears that the mat­ter will be hushed up. Because Sat­ur­day night, Zay­nal Abarok, Gülis­tan’s friend, forced her into the vehi­cle, molest­ing her. And Sun­day, the last per­son she saw was again Zay­nal. After­wards, Gülis­tan dis­ap­pears. On the cam­eras, you see Gülis­tan step­ping into a minibus. But no images show her step­ping out. When there are cam­eras on every street cor­ner in the city, yet Gülis­tan evap­o­rates. Can you say “this is pos­si­ble”? Then, a pre­scrip­tion in Gülis­tan’s name and a pair a scis­sors she is said to have bor­rowed from a friend, are found. Can you say “She jumped”? Is that impos­si­ble? Of course it is possible.

But, in this coun­try, we have wit­nessed the oppo­site many, many times. So, nat­u­ral­ly, our trau­mas don’t let us go.

Put your­self in the place of Gülis­tan’s fam­i­ly, of her moth­er cry­ing out for help, in her sis­ter’s place as she cries, in the place of her father…Wouldn’t you be ask­ing “where is she?” No doubt there are some who don’t won­der and who don’t even care. We are going to con­tin­ue asking.

Where is Gülis­tan Doku?

Ley­la Alp

Leyla Alp was born in Sinop in 1975.
She was chief editor of Emek Dünyası and editor of the program Mercek Altı on IMC TV. She has written for Emek Dünyasi, T24, Demokrat Haber, Jiyan.org, Sendika.org…She continues her columns on sendika.org and T24.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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