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Everything about Sara Kaya was bound to displease the Turkish regime: a native of Nusaybin, a Kurdish woman, a feminist, elected by the people… Sentenced to 16 years in prison, she is one of the “political hostages” filling prisons in Turkey.

Sara was born in 1970 in Nusaybin where she grew up, and attended primary and secondary school. She holds a construction engineer’s diploma from Diyarbakir’s Dicle University, and another in Business Administration from Eskişehir’s Anadolu University. She is also the mother of 4 children. Sara worked 19 years in the Nusaybin township, where she was a long-time spokesperson for the municipality’s workers union.

During the 2014 local elections, she was elected as co-mayor of the city, as a representative of the Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP) with a total of 36,697 votes representing 78,8% of the votes cast. Her mandate was marked by the self-government declaration and the curfews that followed in Nusaybin.

Sara was thus arrested on August 28 2015 for announcing that the town would govern itself…That same year in September, she was transferred from Mardin prison to the one of Sincan in Ankara, some 1,100 km away… She is thus one of those determined women and men that the regime attempts to break down by every means available,  through isolation and distancing from their life environment and that of their families: forced deportations the prisoners call ‘exile transfers’ are a common practice in Turkey.

See also
Prisoner deportations, a common practice in Turkey

In November 2015 while awaiting her trial calling for a sentence of life imprisonment, Sara finds herself released on bail for a short period. In September 2016 she is stripped of her elected duties as mayor, then on January 13 2017, arrested during a raid at her home and sent back to Mardin prison.

One month later, on February 17 2017, she is transferred, this time to the prison in Van. And on December 23 2019, deported once again to a prison with a bad reputation, that of Tarsus in Mersin, some 650 km from her town…

During over three years of provisional detention, she is shuttled from one prison to another, as is the case for a number of other people. While, we should add, her trial continues before the Mardin Tribunal. Sara is thus forced to defend herself through distant visioconferencing, an additional discrimination contrary to the rights of defence.

The final hearing in her trial, on June 22 2020, is held under these conditions before Mardin’s Criminal Court.  Sara is sentenced to 16 years in prison  “for violating the unity of the State and the unity of the country” and “belonging to a terrorist organization”.

On that same day, Ümit Dede, Co-Vice-President of the HDP’s Commission on Law and Human Rights, declared: “As we already know, following the local elections of March 30 2014, in a genocidal political approach, inquests and imaginary charges were launched on several occasions against the mayors and HDP council members. 93 DBP mayors were arrested, 84 municipalities found themselves placed under the administration of tutors designated by the State. Again, during the elections on March 31 2019, 45 HDP municipalities were placed under tutorship and 22 of our co-mayors were arrested.
The file under which Sara Kaya was sentenced was also prepared by Ünal Uyar, supervisor of Nusaybin’s TEM at the time, who is himself currently incarcerated, accused of torture and pillaging. This file, like so many others is filled with invented allegations and fabricated evidence.
It is obvious that the reason why the judiciary power, acting as the handgun of the those in power, arrests and heavily sentences  the co-mayors with great anger and hatred because of the role women play in the HDP, and the practice of co-mayorships.
We do not accept this illegal and unscrupulous decision against Sara Kaya, and call on the government and the judiciary to respect democracy and the people’s will.  Those who think they can intimidate the HDP’s political men and women through arrests and sentencing will lose some day.”

On March 9 2018, Sara Kaya found herself sponsored in France by the Mayorship of Vitry. But further support languishes and Sara, devoid of protection, sees her fate  being slowly forgotten. And although we know  there are thousands in this same situation, we also know through experience that support of militants of Sara Kaya’s stature also represents support for all her co-detainees, who then share in the relative security provided by the threads woven through solidarity.

This begins through the regular mailing of simple postcards, for example…

Let’s give a maximum exposure to this call for support. Any person imprisoned in Turkey, if left alone and forgotten, is in danger. Pulling them out of anonymity when repressive measures are applied constitutes a minimum of protection.

* To get around the difficulties of censorship and to be sure of reception, please write your messages in Turkish. You can use this tool for example

Sara Kaya
Tarsus Kadın Kapalı Cezaevi
Tarsus – MERSİN

A small homegrown animation…

Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges
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