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Ned­im Tür­fent: Long live the snake who omits strik­ing me.

Words fly by in my head. Mean­while, I can bare­ly put two syl­la­bles togeth­er. My pen has been becalmed for hours. The ink no longer flows, as if  my pen had been weaned.

How can it be that I, who usu­al­ly write pages and pages of let­ters from this place of con­fine­ment, can­not even pro­duce a scrib­ble? Being able to write would be some­thing, but I have the feel­ing that the paper suf­fers, even from this sim­ple line.

Stuffed into my pouch, all my thoughts fight  one anoth­er. I’m lost. Hon­est­ly, I feel as stiff as the hem of a mud­dy pair of trousers or, what can I say, as if I had peb­bles in my shoe.

But at last, this pen­cil I pro­tect as the apple of my eye, my rea­son for liv­ing,  lights a match in my head. At this hour when the night becomes total dark­ness, a spark is far from being noth­ing. Espe­cial­ly if you must fight in the spi­ral of an unprece­dent­ed per­se­cu­tion, unbal­anced on the edge of a cliff, a blind well, where some­one wish­es to douse you in dead­ly gasoline.

I don’t know if I should be the arche­ol­o­gist of my own head. Because ever since our arrest, we have used up a num­ber of calendars…While you were going about your usu­al busi­ness of liv­ing, and that is only human, for the past five years over here, I have been run­ning after “jus­tice”. Even if I know that what will come after that hour, will still not be justice…

Luck­i­ly, the tongue that is my pen has sud­den­ly start­ed wag­ging again. From here on, even the scribes of time can­not catch up with me.

You are still read­ing me? Then, let’s con­tin­ue with our chatter.

I must tell you frankly that had I been told five years ago “you will be held in prison for years, for hav­ing prac­ticed alter­na­tive jour­nal­ism”, I would have moved along and laughed in your face. Nev­er would I have imag­ined that the Law and our rights could be tram­pled this bad­ly. Like a shut­tle con­stant­ly mov­ing back­ward and for­ward between accep­tance and habit­u­a­tion, we are trans­formed into this object weav­ing the net we thought impos­si­ble, undoable. And that is the worst of it. Today, we accept silent­ly as if they were ordi­nary all these things that, no more than five years ago, would have set fire to the great­est of indig­na­tions. We col­lapse in our arm­chairs, set­tle into our echo cham­bers, and we wish a long life to the snake that does not strike us.

And all those who did not dare touch us yes­ter­day, now tram­ple all over us. They were offered the pos­si­bil­i­ty on a plat­ter and they were more than hap­py to take it… Them? You know, those in pow­er and their con­sorts, with whom we some­times turned the oth­er cheek. And if you strike the one with the long nee­dle, you must know how to strike with the small one…Self-criticism would be in order.

This pen­cil is one of the sto­ries on which the vise of per­se­cu­tion test­ed its teeth. Every­thing start­ed by a piece of news: “You will see the strength of the Turk”. In 2015 in Yük­seko­va, a town smack on the bor­ders of Irak, Iran and Turkey, Turk­ish spe­cial forces made a group pf Kur­dish con­struc­tion work­ers lie naked on the ground and hollered “You will see the strength of the Turk!” (in French)

I relayed this infamy and an inquest was opened against these police­men. But short­ly there­after, the voice of revenge reached my ears. Attacks using tear gas, rub­ber bul­lets, sur­veil­lance, aggres­sions, death threats, then arrest, tor­ture dur­ing cus­tody and, final­ly, on May 13 2016, incar­cer­a­tion. The threats deliv­ered by JITEM 1 just a few days before my arrest were par­tic­u­lar­ly elo­quent: “We exam­ine each life­less body we recu­per­ate, to see if it isn’t yours.”

We all had doubts on how my tri­al would pro­ceed in a far­away dis­trict where armed forces and revenge work togeth­er. Nat­u­ral­ly, they start­ed by pre­sent­ing pseu­do “wit­ness­es”. All of the 19 wit­ness­es for the pros­e­cu­tion described tor­ture while in cus­tody. They clear­ly stat­ed before the tri­bunal that they were forced to tes­ti­fy against us. As one con­crete exam­ple, one of the wit­ness­es declared:  “the police­men told me: if you don’t sign this doc­u­ment, we will pull out your teeth with pli­ers”. This tes­ti­mo­ny and sev­er­al oth­ers of the same ilk, were entered in the tri­al pro­ceed­ings. Thus all the tes­ti­monies were annulled. The pros­e­cu­tion had to pro­vide evi­dence. But in the file, all that remained as “evi­dence” were these bits of infor­ma­tion. Infor­ma­tion on dis­pro­por­tion­ate vio­lences, on vio­la­tions of rights…

Yet, the del­e­ga­tion of judges final­ized the busi­ness to cries of vic­to­ry. It set­tled on a sen­tence of 8 years, 9 months. In order to moti­vate the deci­sion, it made an admis­sion in fact, when it wrote: “For hav­ing pro­duced embar­rass­ing infor­ma­tion…” What could be more nor­mal in a region where bru­tal­i­ties by the secu­ri­ty forces are cov­ered with impuni­ty? They were thus declar­ing that those inform­ing the pub­lic of vio­la­tions of rights, were the guilty ones. Had this been all…The judges crim­i­nal­ized some­thing in a total­ly sub­jec­tive man­ner. Briefly stat­ed, the fact infor­ma­tion was not pro­duced using their lan­guage and from their point of view, became a motive for condemnation.

Under nor­mal con­di­tions, are not per­sons held respon­si­ble for their actions? In this case, I was chas­tised both for hav­ing pro­duced infor­ma­tion “dis­turb­ing the State” and also, for fail­ing to pro­duce “reas­sur­ing” information…

As for the police­men against whom an inquest had been opened, chances are good they will be reward­ed some day with a pro­mo­tion. As if they were all benev­o­lent angels…

A few months after my con­dem­na­tion, the AKP regime, in an effort to cleanse itself from the vio­la­tion of rights and the dis­pro­por­tion­ate vio­lence applied dur­ing the peri­od of the cur­fews and urban war­fare, said: “The gen­er­als mem­bers of FETÖ 2 act­ed this way in order to place the peo­ple and the State in con­fronta­tion”. Assum­ing this was the case, this infor­ma­tion was still the one used to con­demn me as “belong­ing to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion” (PKK)…And the tri­bunals pro­vid­ed the rub­ber stamps to con­firm this persecution.

I also note that I was not brought before the judges a sin­gle time. The Euro­pean Court of Human Rights (CEDH) con­sid­ers this, with­out ques­tion, a vio­la­tion of rights, and there are dozens of jurispru­dences to this effect. The indi­vid­ual requests con­cern­ing clear vio­la­tions of rights filed by our lawyers to the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Tri­bunal (AYM) and the CEDH are in abeyance. I get the impres­sion that the high judges love behav­ing like ostriches!

In all hon­esty, I’m ashamed to even bring up this per­se­cu­tion. Still no news from the author­i­ties and, par­tic­u­lar­ly, for the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Tri­bunal. Still, I am one of the lucky ones because there are so many peo­ple between these four walls who car­ry the traces of boots on their backs, to state it in an image, and who have no pos­si­bil­i­ty of express­ing their problems…I feel that speak­ing about mine is uncalled for, I feel ashamed to do so.

Please, con­sid­er this open let­ter as “rep­re­sen­ta­tive” of sit­u­a­tions. In this frame­work, jus­tice is demand­ed for all.

This hum­ble pen­cil writes this, express­es this. This let­ter is not so that you will send me cor­re­spon­dence, but so you will be informed and remain aware.

In sol­i­dar­i­ty and with the pen­cil’s resis­tance, before its lead is broken…

Ned­im Türfent
Van Prison. April 14 2021, 1 800th day of imprisonment.


If  you wish to support and to write to Nedim and his friends in the block:

You can send a mes­sage in a few clicks with the tool pro­vid­ed by Eng­lish PEN for the #PEN­writes cam­paign: by click­ing HERE

Or you can send your let­ters and cards by mail. Here is his address:

Ned­im Türfent
Van Yük­sek Güven­lik­li Kapalı Ceza İnf­az Kurumu
A‑44
VAN – TURKEY


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Nedim Türfent
Auteur, mem­bre d’hon­neur de Kedistan 
Jour­nal­iste, cor­re­spon­dant de DIHA, en prison depuis 2016. Mem­bre hon­ori­fique du Eng­lish PEN