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In the evening of Thursday January 7 in Antalya, Melek, a 31 year old young woman, mother of two children, stripped naked, handcuffed, was subjected once again to physical and sexual violence by her husband Ramazan. Twelve years of marriage… The next day, January 8th, she killed Ramazan with the gun he had used to threaten her. The same day, Melek is taken into police custody and incarcerated on January 9.
This could be seen as a sordid news item, soon to be forgotten so as not to attract attention on the wave of feminicides striking Turkey, and elsewhere. But the accumulation is such that public opinion is now sensitized in Turkey, through these unceasing assassinations, acts of violence or psychological, physical and sexual attacks, disappearances… There was a reaction as soon as the news began to spread. Very quickly, spontaneous solidarity gathered around Melek’s case.
The platform “Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız” (We will stop feminicides) published its report for 2020: 300 averred feminicides and 171 suspicious deaths.
On Monday January 11, her lawyer, Ahmet Onaran, transmitted words from Melek who had been informed of this outside support. “She thanks everyone for the support she is receiving. She says justice will be done and that she will be back with her daughters.” Ahmet Onaran adds, “when I asked her how she felt in prison, she answered ‘at least, I won’t get beaten here tonight’. A terrifying answer.” He also spoke with Melek’s daughters, 8 and 6 years old, who are in the custody of their grandmother. The lawyer shares the children’s reactions with the media. The little girl said “My father will never come back, right? Yayyyyy, we will never get beaten again”
Women, feminists, civil society organizations, human rights’ defendors call for Melek’s freedom. As she specified in her satement, Melek used her right to legitimate defence in order to protect her life and that of her children. She was subjected to hours of physical and sexual violence, to torture. Despite everything, she attempted to protect her children. Her husband Ramazan is the one who first made use of the weapon. Although Melek had caused the death of her husband even if this was not her intention, she informed the gendarmes, the ambulance and stayed on the premises. Her lawyer has filed a request for a liberation under judiciary control, and remains hopeful…
One must recall that on the other side, in feminicides, when the assassin shows up in a business suit and tie in front of the judge, he regularly receives clemency, while the women are sentenced to perpetuity. The same indulgence applies to abusers when they offer to “repair” the problem through marriage.
Few of these women who killed their husband regain their freedom, except after long solidarity campaigns, as was the case for example for Yasemin Çakal who had killed her companion, as Melek did, and for whom, after three years of incarceration during her trial was not condemned after the tribunal considered that “she had committed the act in a state of emotion and panic taking her beyond the bounds of reason, under a forgivable shock.”
Çilem Doğan, sentenced to perpetuity was sentenced in 2016 to 15 years in prison. Her lawyers’ request for a liberation on bail, here again with large support, was accepted and she was liberated in June 2020.
Yet, Nevin Yıldırım who ended up killing her sexual attacker in 2015, also sentence to perpetuity, is still in prison…
We are publishing all of Melek’s words which we reconstituted by cross-referencing her statement and her testimony before the tribunal which were made public. Of course this is not with an unhealthy voyeuristic intention but because we hope to relay the appeal launched for Melek’s liberation by providing as complete a context as possible. A petition was launched on January 11 and received 10 000 signatures within 6 hours. As we publish this article there are 20 000 signatures. The text of the appeal contains a summary of Melek’s statement in Turkish. With this complete translation, we hope that our readers, but also those in other media who wish to relay this appeal will join in this approach.
My children were also subjected to violence. But I couldn’t complain because I was afraid. He threatened to kill the children. Several times, I wanted to file a complaint but especially after the birth of our first daughter C. I did not dare take this step, under Ramazan’s threats: “If you obtain a protective measure, I will go to the commissariat for the interrogation and when I come back, I will kill you and the child”. I was afraid of Ramazan who is a weapons fanatic. In fact, I was wounded seven months ago under his beatings. He threatened me: “I will kill you right here and make dog food out of you. No one will find your trace.”
On the day of the incident while we were in the same room, he sent me a message on Whatsapp “I want us to separate.” I answered “as you wish”. He sent me another message “can you go in the other room”. Without a word, I took the children and went into the other room. We continued exchanging messages. He wrote “I want to talk to you about custody of the children. One of the two can stay with you, the other with me.” I answered “let’s not separate them, keep them both, in any event, I will take them back later.” We exchanged in this way, about our divorce. But we did not say a single word to one another.
Around 10:30, at the children’s bedtime, we were getting ready. He entered the room with the hunting rifle registered in my name, which is normally hanging on the living room wall. He told me “I am going to kill you”.
“Say your final prayer”, he said and aimed the rifle at me. I begged him not to kill me. When I realized he was about to shoot, I moved in front of the children. My two daughters were hugging each other, crying. With my hand, I pushed away the rifle barrel. My intention was to manage to get the children away. My husband fired at that point. The bullet went out through the window, we were not wounded. Again he aimed the rifle at me, again I begged him not to kill me. This time he turned the rifle toward our children. He threatened me: “First I will have you live the pain of your children, then I will kill you.” Terrorized, I threw myself on my daughters. He then struck me on the head with the rifle stock. I was wounded in the face, the eyes, on the arm and on the shoulder. He took me into the other room, dragging me by the hair and there, he beat me again with his fists and his feet, to the face and to the body. He took the phone out of my pocket and struck me in the face with it. As I was screaming, he told me to shut up and gripped my throat. Under the effect of the strangling, I felt as if my eyes were going to pop our of their orbits, everything turned black. “Do you think I do less to others?” he yelled. I managed to escape him, and tried to run away. He caught me and beat me again with his fists and his feet. I went on screaming, so again he strangled me. I lost consciousness.
I came to, tied up in a fetal position in the bathroom. My hands were handcuffed. My neck was tied to my hands, my hands to my feet with the nylon cord my husband uses for hunting. He was spraying me with cold water. When I came to, I felt from the pain that my companion had raped me while I was unconscious. I was cold, I was shaking and shivering. As if nothing had happened, he was naked, showering and washing down the walls. There were traces of my blood on the walls, on the toilet, he was washing away these traces. Once had had finished cleaning the bathroom, he left.
I waited like this, on the ground; still in fetal position in the bathroom. He came back with his 15-20 cm Rambo knife and placed the tip under my left breast. He held the knife with his left hand and with his right hand he pressed down. “If I knife you a bit lower, it will go into your lungs, if I knife you a bit higher, I’ll make a hole in your heart, but if I knife you here, you will die in worse suffering” he said, moving the knife on different parts of my body and making me feel the tip. At that moment, I thought he was going to lacerate me with the knife, and crying, I begged him constantly not to kill me. I could not scream for help because he threatened to kill me if I screamed. “I will kill you, I will lay out the children too, here.”
He warned the children not to leave their room. I did not see them, I did not hear them. He untied my hands, removed the handcuffs and told me “take a shower, I’ll wait in front of the door.” He left the door open and watched me from the threshold. I took a shower, wrapped myself in the towel, and we went to the room together. At that moment, I though he had given up on killing me, I was relieved. But he handcuffed me again, I tried to run but couldn’t. He caught me and handcuffed me very tight behind the back.
He opened the sofa bed and told me to lie down naked. As my hands were tied in my back, it hurt. I could not lie down. I asked him to remove the handcuffs. He answered “Lie down in silence or I’ll throw you out through the balcony. I won’t kill you in the darkness of night but in the full light of day, and put you to pieces.” My daughters were in the other room. We heard my eldest daughter vomiting. He howled at them “get to bed and sleep, don’t get yourselves killed”. He lay down on the mattress on the floor. Still handcuffed in the back, the sofa bed made noise when I tried to turn over. He came close to me, removed the handcuffs and put them back on me, this time in front. He lay me down next to the mattress, straight on the floor. I was then lying in the empty space under the sofa bed. He wedged me in there, he kept me from moving. He fell asleep. From the fear and the cold, I couldn’t sleep before morning. I managed to fall asleep at prayer time.
He woke me up and told me he was going to do the breakfast service [at his work]. “Wait here for me to come back, when I come back, I’ll finish what I started”, he said. To the children he said “When I come back I will kill you and your mother. Don’t leave the house.” He didn’t lock the door of the apartment. He took the keys to the handcuffs, his knife and one of his weapons. With my eldest daughter we tried opening the handcuffs with hair clips and a tea spoon, but couldn’t manage it. The rifle he had fired the night before was in the living room, against the wall. I looked, its mechanism was absent. I searched for a weapon to keep him from killing me, but I didn’t find one.
With the help of my daughter C. I dressed in a sheet and went to our neighbor Turgut Yaraşlı. Our homes are 100 meters apart. The reason for this was that my husband, in order not to get fined by the national parks sometimes leaves his hunting rifle with Turgut. Semra, Turgut Yaraşlı’s wife opened the door. I had hidden my hands under the sheets so no one would see the handcuffs. She asked “what state are you in?” Out of fear, I didn’t want to say too much, I sidestepped by saying “we had an argument again”. I asked if they had my companion’s rifle. Semra said they didn’t have it. So I went home.
At home with my children, we started waiting for my husband. My children kept asking me “will our daddy kill us?” And even C., out of fear, peed in her pants. We heard my husband’s car, the girls started to cry, terrified and saying “Mommy, daddy is here, is he going to kills us?” I left the room where the children were, I went into the first room on the left of the entrance to the apartment. My husband was coming up the stairs, cursing and howling he was going to kill us. He came in by kicking into the door. He started yelling in the house. I was making myself small in a corner of the room.
At that moment, I saw the small shotgun for birds in a corner. Still handcuffed I took it and wedged it under my arm. My hand couldn’t reach the trigger. What I wanted was to keep my husband at bay. He entered the room brutally. We were face to face. When he saw me “you are going to kill me?” he yelled. Then he threw himself on me attempting to take back the gun. While we struggled a shot rang out. I don’t know how it happened. At first, I thought I was dying. Then I saw my husband collapse near the room and blood was flowing. I immediately took the cellphone in his pocket. I tried to make it work but not knowing his password, I couldn’t. I showed my face to the phone [for a facial recognition] but it didn’t unblock. But the emergency numbers appeared. So I called the 122, emergency calls. I said I had shot my husband and that they needed to call an ambulance.
Under the shock of what had happened, I squatted there, next to my husband and waited. There was a ring at the door, the gendarmerie and the ambulance arrived. The gendarmes are the ones who removed the handcuffs. I got dressed. Then I was taken into custody. I am sad and regret everything that happened. But if such a misfortune had not occurred, I and my two daughters would be dead. I killed my companion who tortured me all night, I cleared my honor.
Update of 26 April 2021
During the trial on 26 April, the judges recognised self-defence, also the fact that the seriousness of the facts could lead to self-defence with fatal consequences, so there would be no reason to convict. So Melek Ipek is released!
Despite Turkey’s decision to leave the Istanbul Convention, it turns out that the judges applied it…