150 days ago, a “lottery” gave me prison and solitary confinement. Of the 16 people detained on November 16, 2018, only I was arrested. Everyone I saw afterwards told me that “Someone had to be arrested after an operation like this, the lottery picked you.” On each of the 150 days I have spent in this 10 m2 cell I have asked myself: Why?
Along with Osman Kavala, I am the other arrested defendant of the 657-page Gezi Indictment, which was issued against 16 people in early March. Although this 657-page text is called a bill of indictment, I don’t think that it goes beyond being a ‘bill of insinuation’. There is an attempt to create a perception far from reality by constantly repeating insinuations limited to a few points. Indicating a fertile imagination, it also creates a novel position labelled ‘agent of influence’. But it fails to put forward either concrete allegations or evidence to support such allegations. Still, it does not shy from demanding aggravated life imprisonment for the 16 people named in the file.
After reading this document, a single question remains in the mind of anyone who, without understanding the law, is capable of understanding a basic cause and effect relationship: how did these people bring to life all this series of events?
Given we are repeatedly referred to as members of an organisation, presumably, before anything else, we must ask which organization? There is no organisation on the 657 pages and yet each time, before my name, I am insouciantly referred to as “a member of an organization”. Over 657 pages it is not revealed what kind of relationship exists between these 16 people, let alone what organisation. For example, it appears that in 2012 I had a 35 second phone conversation with a landline belonging to Osman Kavala. This is my only call with him, but there is no content.
There is a chronology of Gezi events in the 657-page document. Accordingly, it is said that the park was emptied on 16 June 2013. Moreover, it is frequently repeated that these 16 people made plans from 2011 and waited for the ‘right occasion.’ As for all the evidence about me, this consists entirely of 150 phone calls I made between 21 June 2013 and December 2013. There is an attempt to base evidence that we planned Gezi from 2011 onwards, and that I was involved in this attempt, on phone taps which started five days after the park was emptied. In any case, the dates of my phone calls are almost never indicated over the 657 pages but calls are repeatedly presented as if they took place before the (Gezi) events.
Similarly, throughout these 657 pages, it is frequently mentioned that I held meetings on the orders and instructions of Osman Kavala. There is, of course, not a single piece of evidence of an order or instruction. There is not even a single message. There are in any case no meetings.
On 100 pages of the 657 pages, there is a reference to offences committed across Turkey. The majority of these are damage to property, plunder and injury. As for the clearest accusation
about me, it is that I bought the domain name www.siddetsizeylem.org (nonviolentaction.org). It is not anything I published on this website. Because I did not publish anything. But, in these 657 pages, 198 methods of nonviolent protest are explained quite clearly. There is no evidence as to what kind of offense I committed by buying a domain name. There is no evidence as to how myself or others are linked to damage to property, plunder, and injury. However, a conversation where I talk about a few examples of nonviolent action is repeatedly used without an indication of its the date and so as to create the false impression that I discussed it prior to the (Gezi) events. Of course, there is not a single piece of evidence regarding how these actions are related to me.
Yet another bizarre accusation is to have organized meetings to spread the Gezi events to Anatolia. The only evidence of this is that I was the moderator of a 27 June meeting held in Istanbul, in fact on the city’s European side, where the events of Gezi were discussed. This meeting was not the only meeting held after Gezi, holding meetings is not a crime, moderating is not an illegal occupation. It is also not possible to spread Gezi to Anatolia with a single meeting.
All these inconsistent insinuations creating a chain of events succeeding each other fall far short of answering the question, “how”. Maybe in any case it does not have such an objective. After reading the 657 pages over and over again, it is not possible to even understand why I have been held in solitary confinement in a 10 meter square cell for 150 days, let alone why I face an aggravated life sentence.
I do not think a legal process this far from reality and logic is about me, the other 15 people, or the Gezi events. I believe that this 657 page text and process we are experiencing is related to public trust in Turkey’s legal order. I think that others, as myself, watch with great concern how people randomly receive months of solitary confinement via lottery and face aggravated life sentences via documents that do not concern themselves with presenting tangible evidence.
I believe that public trust in the law holds us together as a society and guarantees our trust in the future. I also think that this trust being shaken may damage, in ways hard to repair, the continuity of our country as discussed intensively in March. To this day I have always been in favour of societal dialogue, compromise and communication. Rather than a monolithic opposition, I instead opposed all forms of discrimination, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, militarism and war. I did not expect a prize for this but I equally did not expect to be confined to a 10m2 space.
I keep alive my hope for a Turkey where different opinions and identities can coexist, where different problems can be articulated together, where civil society – which is as important a component of democracy as elections are – and civil society activities such as meetings, training, publishing and receiving foreign funding are not criminalized.
From now until the first court hearing on June 24, I will think about how I will prove that I am not a member of an organization that does not exist. At the same time, I will also not give up my search for a liable authority who can answer my seven year-old daughter’s question: “ For what crime are you in prison?”
On the 150th day of my arrest and on the 532nd day of Osman Kavala’s arrest, I retain my belief and hope that, as it should be according to the rule of law, we will soon be released and that all defendants in my case will be acquitted.
Silivri 9th Closed Prison, C60