‘My son in prison for chanting slogans’

Today is the day Ayse (not her real name) would see her 20 years old son. Vedat (not his real name) is in prison in Diyarbakir. He was a model student. He had just finished his secondary school and was looking forward to go to university. This was three years ago. Vedat had just turned 18. And he was also very concerned with justice. He comes from a family of four children. He is the youngest.

His elder brothers and sisters all had troubles with police because they were defending Kurdish people’s rights. So for Vedat, as his mother Ayse says, ‘it was normal to go out and join thousands the day the body of a Kurdish guerrilla mutilated by the soldiers, returned home for the final journey’. Vedat went to the funeral. Thousands attended it and the funeral turned in a peaceful and sad demonstration. Yet another cry for justice.

When the young guerrilla was lied to rest the crowd dispersed and Vedat made his way back to his house in the Kayap?nar neighbourood of Diyarbak?r. ‘He was stopped by the police – says his mother – and taken to the police station. When nigh came – she says – we started to worry as he was not back yet and he did not have given us any news’. The family called the lawyer but to no avail as he was not able to talk to anyone. ‘It was my worse night ever – says Ayse – because at least had I known that he had been taken into custody ? would have relaxed. I mean – she adds – do you realize that in this place one is actually happy to know that her son is in prison? Because if you have  no news you think the worst. He might have disappeared and this is a thought that kills you’.

The next morning the lawyer managed to learn that Vedat was indeed in the police station. ‘He was soon remanded in custody – says Ayse – but we had to wait ten months before the trial actually started. He was then sentenced to 9 years in prison. I felt the world falling on top of me – says Ayse – 9 years and why ?’ Vedat was charged w?th making propaganda for an illega organization, namely the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party). ‘Actually – his mother says – he was sentenced to 9 years in prison for chanting slogans and carrying a banner asking for justice’.

The past three years for Ayse have been very hard. There is a veil of sadness in her eyes even though she forces herself to smile and look content for her grandchildren especially. ‘The reality ?s – she says – a part of me died when Vedat went to prison. Because you see is like when someone take a young plant which need a bigger vase to grow high ans trong and put it in a smaller vase. The young plant struggles to grow but the vase is too small’. Ayse said that before Vedat shared a cell with 2 others. ‘Now they are nine men in a cell’. The repression in the past five months of the year has increased enormously. ‘They take young people from the streets – says Ayse – when they go back from the demonstration. They did nothing. They just ask for justice’.

Ayse is ready. She put up her best smile. ‘I want Vedat to always see me smiling’.

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