Aziz Mahmut Koç, a political prisoner who stayed behind bars for 14 years and released a month ago describes the days he was in prison as follows: ‘The prison taught me the real dynamics of the state, although it is hard to live in prisons, you become more powerful there’.
Aziz is from the Sarıtoprak (Hola) village of Bismil district of Diyarbakır (Amed). The Koç family faced state violence during 90’s when the family’s house was bombed by Turkish soldiers for allegedly helping the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). In 1993 the family moved to Diyarbakır but due to increased oppression against them, they decided to move to Istanbul in 1997.
The Koç family’s home was raided by police 12 March, 2008 and Aziz Mahmut Koç, his father and his brother were all detained. Koç was blamed for a “bomb blast” in Istanbul and was also charged with “membership in the organisation” and “keeping weapons at a workplace”.
The trial continued for two years. Aziz Koç’s father and brother were acquitted, but Aziz Koç himself was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
Life at different prisons
When he was arrested, he was first put in Bayrampasa prison and then because he resisted all oppressive rights violations in prisons he was forcibly transferred to Edirne and then to Tekirdag, Metris, Kandıra and Bandırma prisons.
“I was subjected to physical and psychological torture too” he explains to Mespoptamia News Agency.
My people must be respected
“What have we done that there is so much pressure?” he says he asked repeatedly to himself, adding that the answer to this question was simply, “to be Kurdish”.
“I firstly asked myself, who are we and what is our goal? You have the answers but they became much more clear when you are behind bars, as the state wants to control you, they want to steal your hopes, your faith. But you become more powerful there, we turned the prisons into universities, we educated ourselves” Aziz Koç says adding:
“The tougher they are against you, the stronger you become in prison”
They want to isolate you
“There is a message that the state wants to give you. ‘You’re on your own here. There’s no one more than you.’ They want to make you feel alone and powerless.” but he adds that with solidarity they overcome all these.
” I learned about Latin America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, Albania, Kurdistan and the world through my readings in prison. You get to know people more in prison. There’s nowhere you can’t travel there. There you are free to learn.”
Some part of me remained inside prison
He stressed that the first feeling he felt after his release from prison was the feeling of leaving ‘a part of himself’ inside.
“That’s the first thing I noticed. Secondly, it’s such a beautiful world, why is there so much persecution in a place where we could all live freely and happily? I’ve thought about this too.”
Political prisoners are committed to their people with love
He also mentions the rights violations in prisons and the situation of sick prisoners who are still kept in prisons despite repeated calls from human rights organisations. He thinks that people outside the prisons have the responsibility to be the voices of the ones who are behind bars
“Political prisoners resist in the dungeon for years. For instance seven of our friends died in one month. The people have to see that and stop remaining silent. As long as the public doesn’t take to the streets, as long as the mothers don’t resist, dead bodies will continue to come from the prisons.”