Şadiye Manap sent a letter and urgent message to the outside world from Gebze Women’s Closed Prison in Turkey’s northwestern province of Kocaeli, where she has been imprisoned for over 28 years.
Manap is a female political prisoner and an author who has written articles, short stories and many other literary and academic works for over 28 years from prison, as Jinnews has reported.
She appealed to PEN International and all other friends of political prisoners defending freedom of thought to campaign on her behalf to get the prison authorities in Turkey to return all her literary work. Her life’s work, as she explained in her letter, has been confiscated by the prison authorities in a recent raid in her prison cell.
MedyaNews has translated and is sharing selected sections of Manap’s letter below. In it, she details the violations of human rights she and 50 other political female prisoners in Gebze Prison have been subjected to.
Excerpts from Şadiye Manap’s letter
“I salute you all with warm regards and love … On 27 November 2020, they raided our cells under the guise of a ‘routine search’. They said: ‘It is the decision of the court’ and they took whatever we had in our cells and put them in garbage bags and confiscated all our written materials …
“In those garbage bags, they have taken our written work which we have been writing with great effort in prison. I want to share this situation that we faced with PEN International.
“Since they confiscated our address books as well, I lost the mailing address of PEN International. I wrote another letter with the intention of it reaching PEN, but the prison management did not allow this letter to go out as well. They filed a ‘disciplinary investigation’ against me, claiming that I was writing ‘false things and lies’. I have rejected the basis of this ‘investigation’ into my conduct and I will continue to defend my rights, even if it means I have to reach out to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) …
“If people outside could see what we have been exposed to within these walls, they would probably not believe their eyes … Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic conditions, they have raided our cells with no protective clothing at all. The prison guards walk around the prison with the same shoes as they came into our cells with. Using one and only one pair of gloves, they undertook our body searches, searched our food and packed the garbage. Such a weird situation …
“I have been imprisoned for 28 years. Since I know that our country is not the safest place and since I had doubts about how much my family could protect them, I had been saving 28 years of my literary work in my cell. I am saying this without seeking to dramatice things. But they took everything, everything I had. I was left with no paper even to write a letter. They even took the blank pages away, not just the pages that I have written on. It is impossible for me to list each and every written work of mine that was confiscated, but I will try to give you a basic list and idea of what was taken. When you consider the fact that, not just me, but 50 other female prisoners have lists of these types of things that were confiscated, you can imagine how serious the situation is.
“Taken from me were my address notebooks, my diaries (where I have been noting my personal experiences), my poetry notebook, the draft for an epic I was writing, at least 50 songs that I have composed the music for and written the lyrics for, my story notebooks which contain all my short stories, my notebook for my fables, my notebook for studying grammar, my translated works, research papers and articles, my notebooks which had details of the books I had read, my biography, novels, letters, photographs and photo-albums.
“They also confiscated the Sony radio that I paid for and bought myself from the prison canteen, the capo that I was using with my instrument baglama, my notebook where I was writing notes about the people who I have lost. So, in short, they have taken every piece of material and moral work that I have produced over the past 28 years in prison. They have confiscated all my letters. I resist here even as I know the pain and the suffering that my people and my sisters outside are also being subjected to. And I will resist, because I know that life is resistance.
“I thank you all for your interest and sensibility. Please share my regards with all the friends outside. With love, Şadiye Manap, Gebze Women’s Close Prison, 12 December 2020”.