Kemal Seven is one of the dozens of people arrested a few days ago for being members of the Kurdish-affiliated BDP party (at the time of their activity a legal organization). He was charged with supporting a terrorist organization, the PKK. His son-in-law Jeff Gibbs described Seven’s arrest (here), giving us an inside view of how the Turkish police and justice system operate. It’s not pretty. Here is his account of Seven’s “hearing”. Below is an excerpt.
…we finally get details about how the raid went down. When the prosecutor decided to accuse the BDP academy of terrorism, they had the police sweep the entire school for fingerprints. Anyone who had been there within the past few days was taken—students, visitors, teachers, and even a man from a shop on the first floor who’d gone up one afternoon for tea. So much for evidence, due process, rule of law or even logic.
…A Turkish arrest has two stages. First you are göz altına almak or ‘taken under the eye’. You’re held in detention as the courts evaluate your case and decide if you have committed a crime. Then you are tutuklanmak—or formally charged. Once this happens, you languish in prison until your case comes to trial, sometimes more than a year later. For my father-in-law, this would mean the dreaded F-Type prison condemned by human rights groups around the world. This is the fate we are praying desperately to avoid.
A verdict did not come till early the following afternoon, and the news was bad. Forty-four people had been charged with membership in the KCK—including my father -in-law. The next day that number would become forty six as two more students were condemned. The defense attorneys, sixteen people in all, stormed out of the courthouse and flung their lawyers robes to the ground in a show of protest. ‘This is not justice. This is a mockery of the law,’ they said.
The prosecutions case, one explained, consisted not of evidence or testimony or proof of any kind—but a single question posed to my father-in-law and his compatriots. ‘Are you a member of the KCK?’…
It’s baffling, this sudden return to the mentality of the 90s. When Turkey has been making an effort to find and exonerate those buried in anonymous mass graves in the East. When they have been trying men like Ayhan Çarkın who admitted to over 1000 assassinations of the government’s political opponents. When for the first time a Kurdish language classes open at universities.
Delal’s dad is being sent to Kandıra prison in Izmit two hours away—far enough from us to make visiting difficult. It will be more difficult for the poorer families. As mentioned before, it’s one of the notorious F-type prisons…. They became famous for extreme brutality and maltreatment. Music would be blared for hours through the cells (This is called Disco Torture…) Prisoners would be isolated for days at a time in the dark. Beatings, sleepless nights where they were forced to sing nationalist marches again and again…