Veysel İlhan, who has recently been released from prison on 26 March, was taken into custody after the forced evacuation and razing of the Qurdise, Kaniya Şex and Kürika Çeto villages of Mardin province in 1992. He was put on trial in the infamous Diyarbakır Security Court (DGM) and was sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of just seventeen.
After 30 years of imprisonment, he has been released at the age of 47. During his prison sentence, he was transferred to 4 different prisons, he has survived through many different diseases and has taken part in multiple hunger strikes, never giving up on justice and freedom.
Ilhan told his story of 30 long years in prison to Mezopotamya News Agency.
Veysel İlhan, who was legally a child when he was sent into prison, said “We did not have ideological entitlements at first, it was only our love and emotional fight for our freedom. We lived through our prison days and read books. That’s when we first realised the truth of life and our country. The ideas about life we had were much different than the truth. We were a part of a feudal society, it was our reality.”
Ilhan said that the traditional way of life is no longer sustainable and added “We have been living this way for centuries and never gained anything. Looking at the history of the Kurds, all of the suffering caused by this. What I’ve experienced in prison taught me that the only truth is the camaraderie. Without it, it would be impossible to stand up and go through a 100 years of imprisonment. Our belief in our fight has been strong and without doubt.”
Ilhan explained that he survived prison by sharing everything with his comrades, and added “Without sharing, no one can survive prison, can’t stand seeing the same person 24/7. Without the camaraderie and party conscience no one can get along with each other for so long. I have a comrade with whom I spent 30 years.”
He said that they survived prison with the awareness of those, who are the pioneers of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that lost their lives in prison struggling in solidarity and staging hunger strikes.
Ilhan continued saying that being out of prison after 30 years does not make him feel free, saying ‘’We will be free when our land and our people are free. This is what freedom means to me. I don’t see any free people or countries in the current system. Prison is called prison, but the people outside of prison are less free. One could at least discuss opinions inside prison. Outside people are living an individualistic life.’’
He continued ‘’If there is going to be a revolution, it will be led by women. They are smarter and more practical.’’
He added saying ‘’Our leader and people are in prison. Thousands of our people have been murdered. We can not forget that. We can not abandon hope. We have to have the willpower. Revolution is not so simple.’’