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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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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.