I started this piece as I was travelling to that place I would set off for at 6.30am every Monday morning; that place that had forced its way into our lives. By which I mean, the prison. I really wish that you could have had the experience of visiting that place, just once. Having said that, I would never wish it on you that your loved one be ‘unjustly’ locked up, not even if your heart was a stone hewn from senseless hate.
It has been 200 days. The seasons are passing, winter has gone by, spring too, and now summer is endingDilek Mayatürk Yücel
I would only wish that you had experienced this once, so that you may better understand me. Nothing more. Because then you would understand what injustice means. Then you would understand what it’s like to have to struggle just to try – and fail – to get the prison authorities to accept a colourful set of bedding for your loved one, as if there are no other troubles in your life. Then you would understand that justice cannot be applied arbitrarily from one person to another.
Do you know what locking up your sorrows in a security locker means?
In prison, in the penultimate place before I reach Deniz, where I have to undergo an eye-scan, having already registered and been given my visitor card, there are security lockers. By the time you reach this point, you have already handed in your mobile phone, keys and other items at the entrance. These lockers are for the smaller things in your pockets, like small change, your watch. I always leave a cigarette in there, for after my visit with Deniz. These are the visible things. There are also invisible things I leave in the locker. My insomnia, my tiredness, if I am ill: my illness. Before going in to see Deniz I leave all my frustrations in that locker; so that I appear well before him, even if I hadn’t slept for the previous two nights.
I leave my fingerprints on the glass that separates Deniz from me and Deniz from his freedomDilek Mayatürk Yücel
And I then go home to sleep, having left my fingerprints pressed on the glass that separated Deniz from me and Deniz from his freedom. For months, my Mondays have consisted of this. So, for once, just for once will you put yourself in my shoes?
Deniz has been imprisoned for 200 days. He’s in solitary, alone. I mean solitary confinement, that inhuman treatment that serves to destroy a person’s complete physical and mental health in the long-term. To alienate a person from his own nature and from the outside world. A mechanism designed to make a person fall apart within. This mechanism, which is wholly unnatural to the individual and which provides them only with limitations and restrictions, leaves nothing but damage on a person.
I’m not interested in your political persuasion, your gender, nationality, the team you support or your favourite food. I am only concerned with the fact that you are a person. Deniz too, before he is my husband or a journalist, is first of all a ‘person’. You and I meet under the shelter known as humanity. Solitary confinement is a treatment that goes against our very humanity. Do you realise that?
The fact that those people whose names you are most familiar with are journalists shouldn’t make this process more attractive or important or this injustice any more or less acceptable than other injustices. There are thousands of people in prison who cannot make their voices be heard, who are being held there unjustly. For example, you have all heard of the ‘imprisonment of Cumhuriyet journalists’, haven’t you? I’d like to remind you of an important point here. The Cumhuriyet’s accountant who has been imprisoned for months is also held in solitary confinement for months. Don’t prioritise detainees in based on their profession. We are all just people who are as invisible as ants from space. The freedom of one of us is not more or less valuable than the other’s. None of us is more important than the other. We are the same. We are equal.
Solitary confinement is a treatment that goes against our very humanity. Do you realise that?Dilek Mayatürk Yücel
The grounds given for Deniz’s imprisonment were newspaper reports and articles that he’d written, including erroneous translations, that were already outside of the time-limits for prosecution under the Media Law. In other words, they were all ‘journalistic’ activities. Before his indictment was even written or he had been before a court, he was made a target, with surreal and fabricated allegations being made against him. I would like to refresh your memory, on 14 February, Deniz went ‘of his own accord’ to give a statement.
His writing is sharp and lively and sometimes, yes, indulgent. But whether you like Deniz or not, Deniz is a journalist. He carries a massive good heart, a goodness that is at risk of extinction in the world. Do not stop listening. Hear me!
It is very busy on the outside, there’s a lot of noise being made. When really, there is no point. Deniz is here, he’s not going anywhere, just as he went to give his statement of his own accord, he has no other request than for a fair trial. He could well be tried whilst on bail.
“Why is Deniz important, why is there so much individual and organizational support behind Deniz, why is there so much public support for him in Germany?” I notice that there are some people who simply cannot understand this.
The answer is quite simple: Deniz is a well-respected journalist in Germany, he is the Turkish correspondent of die Welt newspaper. He is a journalist who is completely in love with his work. He is better known in Germany than he is in Turkey. And Turkey did not know how well known and important a journalist he is in Germany until he was imprisoned.
In countries where there is law and democracy even a child could not fathom how a person can be imprisoned simply for working as a journalist. That is why the reactions in Germany can be viewed only, and I mean only, as people or the state ‘standing up for journalists who carry the citizenship of their country.’ It is no more than this.
Deniz is both a German and a Turkish citizen. And states have a responsibility towards their citizens. Germany has the responsibility to follow to the end a case of unjust deprivation of freedom of one of its citizens, and Turkey has the responsibility to act in accordance of the law without delay, present a final indictment; conditions that are humane not arbitrary, detention conditions that are in line with human dignity.
It is wrong to interfere with a person’s life and freedom, be it for political games or displays of obstinacy, the referendum in Turkey or elections in Germany, and in my view that will only lead all parties towards a fire following which nothing will remain but ashes.
Open the door, it’s me. It’s me.
It has been 200 days since the most precious flower in my garden was brutally snatched away. But even with this polyphony of sound outside, the only sound I pay attention to is Deniz’s laughter. Despite it all, we will come out of this process as beautiful as flowers.
Now come out of your cave, please. Please put your head outside. Do not be a captive of the shadows, and do not believe only what is being shown to you.
Do you think it’s easy on the inside for 200 days?
Do you think it’s easy on the outside for 200 days?
It has been 200 days. The seasons are passing, winter has gone by, spring too, and now summer is ending. Hear me.
Days and months of a person’s life are wasted in solitary confinement. Just because he was doing his job. Just because he wrote newspaper articles. Just because he carried out interviews.
In rounded numbers, in this process, we have had to become accustomed to countless absurd routines like scream even louder of our distress and the injustice we have suffered. If you ask what is the difference between day 200 and day 78, there is no difference. The days are the same.
It has been 200 days since the most precious flower in my garden was brutally snatched awayDilek Mayatürk Yücel
Do you know that sometimes a burden you bear mentally is more exhausting and can hurt you more than a physical injury? I would have preferred a thousand times to have borne a physical visible wound on my body than to have been mentally shackled to Silivri prison.
At the end of each visit I try to blow away with my breath and with all my strength, like a child, all of the potential negative effects upon Deniz of solitary confinement. And you, the organizations with ‘human rights’ in your names, I expect you to blow much harder than my amateurish efforts.
It has been 200 days. Do you realise that?
Dilek Mayatürk Yücel is the wife of Deniz Yücel. Read more about his case here.
Translated from Turkish by Caroline Stockford
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.