Türkçe Nupel | Français | English

The Ter­can plateaux in Erz­in­can. Think of spring lambs scat­ter­ing in the new growth, think of those breads baked over wood fires and think also of their shar­ing, still warm, with every­one who smelled their scent… Think of the cries from the chil­dren play­ing with no hid­den thoughts, no schem­ing. Think of the immac­u­late­ly white cot­ton cloths smelling of soap, spread out on lines strung up between trees, float­ing in the warm breeze…

Think of those love sto­ries in the shade of the immac­u­late white cloths, as pure as child­like shy­ness, as nat­ur­al as child­like shyness…

Think of the fact that all that is beau­ti­ful is shared, that the one who stum­bles is tak­en by the hand and put back on his feet, that friend­ship is the cure to everything…

And also, think of Zeynel!…

Lean­ing against a mul­ber­ry tree, grab­bing his saz 1, singing Pir Sultan’s verse 2

I am Pir Sul­tan, so haughty one
You come, you pass with­out a greeting
Beau­ti­ful one, why do you avoid the conversation?

Zeynel Abidin is a youth from Ter­can. His fam­i­ly was exiled there from Der­sim. He grew up with the pains of a wound­ed peo­ple. The exile’s wound expe­ri­enced by the one torn from his roots, a wound that nev­er heals. Does not the exile bear in his chest suf­fer­ings for which there is no cure? Such is Zeynel Abidin’s fam­i­ly also… It is dis­crim­i­nat­ed against, treat­ed with con­tempt because of its iden­ti­ty, its beliefs, its tra­di­tions, kept behind closed doors by the sys­tem in place.

If you stone a cat, if you chase it, if you hurt it, you cor­ner him with­out leav­ing it any escape route, in the end, it will claw at you…out of despair, it moves into self-defence…”

If a cat who is noth­ing but a cat does this, what do you expect from a wound­ed human? Zeynel Abidin, whose fam­i­ly was chased out of Der­sim, to whom harm was done where he land­ed, is this system’s opponent.

The people’s pover­ty, the mediocre jus­tice and the twist­ed wheel of Order wound­ed his heart… And since he was in pain, he rose up against order and joined the organ­ised struggle.

Zeynel Abidin, est un ami pour la vie de Süley­man Cihan, tué sous la tor­ture. Ce Süley­man, assas­s­iné par la main tor­tion­naire de l’E­tat.3 Zeynel est tombé dans la prison de Metris, son corps, pour lui aus­si, fut déchi­queté sur des planch­es de tor­tures, mais il ne livra aucun nom. De toute sa petite taille, il résista dans les salles de tor­tures, il devint un géant…

Zeynel Abidin is friends for life with Süley­man Cihan, killed under tor­ture. This Süley­man, assas­si­nat­ed by the State tor­tur­er. 4Zeynel also fell into prison in Metris, his body was also torn on the boards of tor­ture, but he did not give any names. With all of his short stature, he resist­ed in the tor­ture cham­bers, he became a giant…

Zeynel is so short that even his height was made fun of. Zeynel didn’t care. He took refuge in his books, he read con­stant­ly to clear his hori­zon. Dur­ing these dark days of impris­on­ment, books were his most faith­ful friends. Zeynel had noth­ing but his books, his saz and his comrades.

What is a com­rade? Much more than a broth­er or a sis­ter, such a bind­ing link means step­ping up as a vol­un­teer to shield the oth­er with your chest from the bul­let that might reach him or her. It means “don’t die, I’ll die in your place.”

zeynel abidin

Do count­ed days pass more quick­ly? Impris­on­ment always ends, some day. Zeynel’s end­ed also and then, he fell in love. Fol­low­ing his lib­er­a­tion, he mar­ried and offered the world a daugh­ter and a son.

How many homes did the 1980 jun­ta burn down, how many thresh­olds were cov­ered in blood, how many were left with incur­able wounds. Thus was Zeynel wound­ed, like so many oth­ers. Pris­ons, tor­tures, end­less per­se­cu­tion, threats, death sen­tences, assas­si­na­tions of revolutionaries…

The migra­tion of man­pow­er that began in the 60s, from Ana­to­lia toward Europe, was replaced in the 80s by that of the vic­tims of the coup d’état. Europe opened its doors that time to polit­i­cal refugees. They  rushed for­ward, like a flood, every­where in Europe, but gath­ered in Ger­many for the most part.

Zeynel was one of those vic­tims of the coup d’Etat. Stuttgart became Zeynel’s liv­ing environment.

Here, not­ing resem­bled the Ter­can plateaux, here no cloths smelling of soap were spread out in the sun. Here, not the shad­ow of a cloth, only fab­ri­cat­ed loves, cal­cu­lat­ing, account­ed for, based on prof­it. Here, there were strict rules, dis­ci­pline, a dour-faced cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem. There was ambi­tion for mon­ey, as if one was always one hour late from a salary. There was a road like a vicious cir­cle, going from the house to the job, from the job to the house… Here there were no kind-heart­ed moth­ers shar­ing their fresh­ly-baked bread…

Com­rad­ship? It also took a direct hit. Became rare, it was most­ly faked and that was all.

You searched for fam­i­ly broth­er­hood. Count on the fin­gers of one hand… But, despite every­thing, would it be prop­er for a lover of the rev­o­lu­tion to com­pete in the games of cap­i­tal­ism? Stuttgart is a huge indus­tri­al city and in this new envi­ron­ment, Zeynel was like a mute one. His knowl­edge of Ger­man was so lim­it­ed you might as well have called it nonex­is­tent. He did not par­tic­i­pate in pro­duc­tion either, although he worked here and there, he nev­er held down a reg­u­lar job…

All polit­i­cal asso­ci­a­tions are in com­pe­ti­tion with one anoth­er, they can’t stand one anoth­er and who­ev­er is not one of them is no more con­sid­ered than a piece of shit. Always the same faces, always the same busi­ness, always the same polit­i­cal argu­ments… No way out of the habits and the for­mu­lae learned by rote. For most of them, it was a mat­ter of being “the most noble of rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies” on the out­side but, at home, of sub­ject­ing their wife to a max­i­mum of vio­lence, mak­ing the life of their com­pan­ion in mis­for­tune, a liv­ing hell.

Did Zeynel phys­i­cal­ly abuse his wife? We do not know. Since we don’t know, we can­not say. But he sep­a­rat­ed from his wife. He left with his favorite books and also with his saz. He went to Wies­baden and took shel­ter at his brother’s. In this coun­try, who­ev­er steps away from pro­duc­tion, stum­bles. Here all doors are open. Some want­ed to get rich quick, fell prey to games of chance, suc­cumbed to them, oth­ers were van­quished by drugs or « busi­ness with women »… A num­ber of them col­lapsed… And , in all cor­ners, there were also eyes, eyes that did not see those who fell.

Zeynel was a man who caught fire at the slight­est provo­ca­tion, he quick­ly became annoyed. The bag in which his books were stacked was always hang­ing behind the door. He encoun­tered a prob­lem with his broth­er, grabbed the bag and left the house.

The streets of Mainz await­ed him. He slept in back alleys, he trans­formed the stones of the side­walk into his pillow.

Zeynel, close com­rade of Süley­man Cihan, Zeynel who had not bro­ken under tor­ture, this Zeynel who nev­er gave the name of a sin­gle com­rade, was van­quished in Ger­many by the cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem. He gave up here, alas…

Ger­many is a rich coun­try, Ger­many is mod­ern, but if Ger­many is rich, it is because it exploits so many.

As every­one was insen­si­tive, as every­one had sold his or her soul, only a few com­rades asked about Zeynel, fall­en to the street, and brought him to a shel­ter for the home­less in Frank­furt. His saz and his books stayed with him. The shel­ter is one of the crime-rid­den places in this town. The low­est class­es of soci­ety live here… It is a place where the res­i­dents are for a major­i­ty addict­ed to drugs, where knives flash, where the most vio­lent fights can break out. At the slight­est provo­ca­tion It is a dirty place where no rules of hygiene prevail…

Zeynel was in his room with his saz and his books.

Here also, there were racist fas­cist Turks. His tra­di­tion­al and rev­o­lu­tion­ary songs both­ered them. There were tags on his door, fights broke out and here also, he received death threats.

Then the streets of Frank­furt became Zeynel’s home. He went back out into the alleys. He slept on bench­es, he spent his nights in aban­doned ware­hous­es or in hall­ways, between two doors.

Still not a word of Ger­man… The streets of Frank­furt knew him, Zeynel, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Kurds and Ale­vis… They fed him, bought cig­a­rettes for him, gave him their unused clothes to cov­er his small body…

Fol­low­ing his sep­a­ra­tion from his wife, his chil­dren were raised in hos­til­i­ty toward their father, they were for­mat­ted in this way.

Zeynel Abidin had anoth­er prob­lem when osteo­poro­sis was diag­nosed. Frank­furt is cold, the back alleys in Frank­furt are dark and desert­ed. Zeynel was cold, con­stant­ly. Zeynel was hun­gry, con­stant­ly. Zeynel was afraid, Zeynel with an emp­ty stom­ach in the wealth of this mod­ern town, at the epi­cen­tre of mon­ey, Zeynel poor­er than a fakir and just as solitary.

He was cold, Zeynel, con­stant­ly From time to time, a com­rade would pick him up, bring him home, wash him, feed him. Or an Ale­vi, filled with pity, would open his door. But Zeynel could not stay any­where, he went back to this life in the alleys of Frank­furt, every time. His ill­ness was not only wast­ing away his small body lit­tle by lit­tle, it was also tak­ing away his words. Zeynel was now speech­less, he expressed him­self in writing.

I’m cold, I’m hun­gry, I’m alone.”

In this final peri­od he chose the Frank­furt Ale­vi Asso­ci­a­tion as domi­cile. Here, there was still a char­i­ta­ble heart beat­ing, a hand reach­ing out to the col­lapsed one. Here, there was a door behind which he could sleep, a plate with a warm meal off which to feed.

He had an attack that par­a­lyzed him. Cihan Özkaya, Pres­i­dent of the Ale­vi asso­ci­a­tion, took care of all the paper­work. He had Zeynel admit­ted to a hos­pi­tal. As an insti­tu­tion, they did every­thing they could to act in a humane way, not to aban­don Zeynel.

As an insti­tu­tion, all that could be done was done, but it was much too late.

Hav­ing lived in the street, not for a few days or weeks, but for years, Zeynel’s body was also fail­ing. Linked to machines, mute, his eyes remained devoid of expres­sion, frozen.

His jour­ney, begun in Ter­can, his life of almost twen­ty years with­out shel­ter in Frank­furt and oth­er neigh­bour­ing towns end­ed in the Ale­vi ceme­tery of Frank­furt. His life, exiled, stoned, nailed, mor­ti­fied, led all the way to his bur­ial in this ceme­tery. For his funer­al and the con­do­lences, the Ale­vi Cul­tur­al Asso­ci­a­tion pro­vid­ed its sup­port, took care of all needs.

His chil­dren were absent from his funer­al. There was only his broth­er and his sis­ter who lives in Switzer­land and a few old com­rades. Fol­low­ing his death, social media said:

Sleep in the light, comrade…”

Zeynel Abidin Gün­doğ­du is immor­tal„ he will go on liv­ing in our hearts.”

Author’s note: This is a text in which I speak out against human val­ues dis­ap­pear­ing and it  is not intend­ed as cast­ing asper­sions on this or that organ­i­sa­tion. What then can I say?

May Zeynels no longer die in the streets, a bit of love for Zeynel, a bit of respect for his life filled with burdens.”

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges

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Suna Arev
Née en 1972 à Uzun­tar­la (Elazığ).Dans une famille de huits enfants, elle est immergée dès son plus jeune âge, par­mi les tra­vailleurs agri­coles à la tâche. Tel un miroir qui date de son enfance, la péri­ode du coup d’Etat mil­i­taire du 12 sep­tem­bre 1980 a for­mé sa vie poli­tique. Diplômée de l’École pro­fes­sion­nelle de com­merce d’Elazığ, elle a vécu, en grandeur nature les com­porte­ments fas­cistes et racistes dans sa ville. Mère de qua­tre enfants, depuis 1997, elle habite en Alle­magne, pour des raisons politiques.
Suna Arev was born in 1972 in the vil­lage of Uzun­tar­la, Elazığ dis­trict. From a fam­i­ly of eight chil­dren she became one of the agri­cul­tur­al work­ers at an ear­ly age. The mil­i­tary coup d’état of Sep­tem­ber 12 1980 served as a mir­ror in shap­ing her polit­i­cal out­look. After obtain­ing a diplo­ma from the Elazığ Pro­fes­sion­al Busi­ness School, she expe­ri­enced the full force of fas­cist and racist behav­iours in her town. She has lived in Ger­many since 1997, for polit­i­cal rea­sons. She is the moth­er of four children.