In his column for Yeni Yaşam, Hüseyin Akyol has shared some recent letters from political prisoners, including one from Leyla Güven. His article is translated below.
As a founder and editor-in-chief of more than 50 newspapers over the last 30 years, I am lucky enough to get to know the Kurdish politicians who re-write the history of the Middle East. Leyla Güven is one of them, and once again she is in prison. She had been jailed before, but this time a very long prison sentence of 22 years and three months was found appropriate (!) for her. If the Supreme Court of Appeal approves this sentence she will be in prison for many years. And I just received a card from her…
Güven shares in her card that she is in good condition in terms of health, morale and motivation. There were 11 people in the Elazig Women’s Closed Prison where she was held. They were staying in three different rooms. Even though she wrote no such request, this is my own advice for our readers: you can write Güven a card or a letter. Of course not only to her, but to all political-revolutionary prisoners. If you don’t know where a particular prisoner is located, you can use the list in the “Let’s Write a Letter” section on the website of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
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In his letter dated 8 February 2021, Ozan Alpkaya from the F-type Prison in İzmir, says, “We can say our situation is stable. We have been stuck in three prison cells for about a year. Sports, chat, etc. are not allowed due to the pandemic. Besides, due to the hunger strikes, three months of activity penalties are already being given. I do not know if they come out of our sentence period. Our disciplinary penalties have reached two to three years.
“Yeni Yaşam newspaper (we did not understand the current pandemic situation) is not permitted for about a year. At first it was said that there is nowhere selling the newspaper .We asked, and there were around 30 places in Buca. Then the decision was made. The newspaper did not have a name in the Press Ad Agency. We appealed to the Execution Prosecutor’s Office. Let’s see what comes out of there. In addition, newspapers and magazines were not purchased via mail. Books are kept for two months before being given out!
”An open view is not allowed. Closed visits are limited to two people twice a month. We can talk to lawyers by phone at the closed visits. Of course, while these isolation conditions continue, hunger strikes continue. In the past, we had a hard time explaining the situation inside. But now I think the outside is not much different from the inside. But a new constitution and reform packages are on the way. Apparently, this new constitution will make people long for the old days.
“In short, this is our situation. There were disasters such as earthquakes and floods in Izmir. For this reason, I think there have been reports that the prison we stayed in was evacuated. But this is not the case. The former Buca E-type Prison must be evacuated. New buildings were built all over. Kırıklar turned into a prison city.
“No friends tested positive for the coronavirus. We haven’t been given a test though. Maybe we had but we do not know. We also focused on reading to follow the events. We heard about the Boğaziçi student protest and how the protestors were treated. We are no longer surprised. Spring is coming. You know, the poet says there is also resistance in this weather. Here is such a thing…”
In a letter dated 11 February 2021, Güven Usta, in the İzmir-Kırıklar No 1 F-type Prison, says: “We are allowed to keep 20 books per person in the room. Restrictions are arbitrary. In addition, three-month visitor bans were given to Bekir Şimşek, Hacı Demir, Remzi Uçucu, Rıza Özçolak, Servet Göçmen, Şerif Turunç and Güven Usta who shouted slogans to claim their rights”.
The books I sent to one of my readers in prison, Yusuf Birkan, in Afyonkarahisar No. 1 T-type Prison, did not reach him. But I learned that the three books I sent the previous week were delivered to prison. Along with the delivery paper, I received a card from Yusuf Birkan saying that the books were given to him.