On July 26, 2015, I was arrested for alleged formation and management of a terrorist organization. I owned three driving schools. While I was in custody, there was no judgment made about me… stated in the indictment, two unknown people reported me to the police, “These driver schools belong to the `Cemaat`. Suleyman Turk runs these as formalities and transfers money to the `Cemaat`.” So I was in custody for twenty-three days, and they sold all my assets. I invested everything in this business. I had three driving school. They sold nearly 30 cars, 8 buses, 2 trucks while I was still in custody. What was done to me was probably the first or only case in Turkey.
I was put through so much trouble! Before going to prison, I had 3,500 TL daily expenses to cover my family and business. They’ve made us suffer such a deprivation! My wife can’t pay rent on one house, she’s moving in another one. She can’t pay for that either. Today, she moved to Uc Kuyular, the very poor suburb of Diyarbakir. We’re living there right now. While she was explaining her situation, she stated that she could not purchase 1 liter of flower oil for a week. She said she couldn’t change the gas tube for three months.
This administration has shown me oppression as much they can. When the indictment was issued, I got nine years imprisonment. For good behavior, it was reduced it to 7 years and 6 months. “Your Honor,” I said, “you call me a terrorist, but for good behavior, you reduce 9 years to 7 years and 6 months. Is there a good form of a terrorist?” He said, “Don’t talk too much.” He didn’t give me the right to defend it anyway. The Supreme Court just broke the case. It broke it, but all our assets are gone. 31 years of savings have been reset.
This administration gave me all the victimities that could have happened. In the prison, among friends, we said, “This man has taken everything from us, and even he will take away our wealth and wives.” He took my assets from me as well. He took my wife and my kids. My kids` psychology are disrupted. So my wife and children became the living dead. This tyrant took away everything he could possibly take. Despite everything, I give praise to my Lord a thousand times to not be a part of the wrongdoers. I’m thankful I’m with the oppressed.
Why am I telling you this? Allah Almighty says, “Speak about persecution.” I’m telling you this because I believe that speaking out about cruelty is a worship. Not to display my victimization, cry, or whine.
I wrote many pages of letters to the President during my time in prison: “Mr. President, whether you know or not, the people under your rule have done this cruelty to me. I call to you as Saint Ukkase called to the Prophet: `Come, let’s settle here in the earth before Judgment Day comes.` Do not go in front of God with rightful due and injustice of an oppressed like me.” I’m still waiting for his answer. It will probably be settled in the last day.
Let me tell you about some of the grievances I witnessed in the prison. It was like, “How many people we can put in.” They brought in everybody they caught. For instance, they imprisoned me for “formation and managing a terrorist organization.” Then they found nothing from the membership. Nothing of the alleged crime has been identified. The indictment says, “He was seen entering Selam College’s courtyard.” Whereas there were three of my daughters in that college. I was bringing and taking my kids. So they found nothing in the indictment that could be considered a crime. They couldn’t detect it, and neither could the Supreme Court. Now the trial has begun again.
After leaving the prison, everyone is worried, afraid. let me tell you something to make the audience smile: because I’m from Balikesir, my wife was calling my mom who lives in the village. My mom picks up, then hangs up; picks up, then hangs up. My wife reaches another relative, asks, “Why does she do that?” My mother said, “In a village near us, a young man was part of this Hizmet Movement. He had a widow mother. She had six cows. The cops were here. They couldn’t catch this boy, so they took his widow mother and her cows.” My mom has also a couple of cows. She thought that the state was going to take my mom and her cows. That is why she would say “Daughter, I sold the cows, I don’t have cows!” and hang up.
There were so many victims that there were 8 to 10 people staying in rooms meant for 4 people. No bunks. We slept on the floor in front of the toilet. As a 54-year-old person, I was in prison for 28 months. You want me to tell you how to do laundry on your bare hands? You want me to tell you about sleeping in front of the toilet? All this didn’t affect me much because I was 100% convinced that I was oppressed and victimized, because I had faith. But the psychology of my children was completely disrupted. My kids’ psychology has still not improved.
Once I was released from prison, all of the friends I would sit with at the coffee shop until 12 oclock with would run away from me and keep their distance. I left the prison with 3 TL in my pocket. What should I do? Of course, I couldn’t sit in coffee shop corners.
I’ve been in this business for 21 years. I visited all my friends, “Help me out.” I made a list, and I asked, “You help me 10 grand, you 5 grand.” Everybody said okay. Then everyone ran away. “Why, brother? Shame on you? Why are you running away from giving 10 grand? You know I would give you 100 grand not 10, if something like this happened to you.” The friends said, “Friend! You’re a member of a terrorist organization, identified as a terrorist! So this system, this regime, this state is calling you a terrorist. You had been in prison. If we help you, our children will be victims of helping terrorism. We’ll go to prison.”
All my close friends, friends ran away. I’ve been running these driving schools for 20-21 years. 8-10 friends who worked for me got married. I helped them to have driving school, so their families can make a living. I have set up 10-15 schools for my former employees. I called them. They love me very much. “The time of sacrifice has come to you. Help me out here. I’ll open a school, will have an address, a place.” That night, they said “ok”. I got a promise from everybody. But then the friends started running away. I called one by one and asked, “Why?” “Friend, they call you terrorist. If we help you, we’ll be helping the terrorist, and therefore we’ll be victims. We’ll be prisoners, just like you.” Like a plague, everyone ran away.
Since these types of executions have happened before in Diyarbakir, the people whom the regime called the “terrorist organisation” were still tolerated by the public because they experienced great convictions. I went to Balikesir to visit my mother. No one of my relatives came to visit me because of fear. It was announced in the village, “terrorists came to our village.” I saw my mother crying. I asked, “Mom, why are you crying?” “My son, they say in the coffee shop, ‘a terrorist has come to our village.’ That’s what they tell you.” “Mom, we’re the people who never hurt a fly so far, we’ve never hurt anyone. We fear to have rightful due. We believe that when there are two overlapping leaves, the lower one will get the right from the upper one. We believe that the sheep with no horned will be entitled to the horned sheep. We believe there will be a corresponding for a little bit of good and evil. How can I be a terrorist?” Of course, my mother cried a lot. She said, “Oh, boy, I know. But that’s what they say.” Even my aunt, who is supposed to be the other half of my mother, did not come to visit me. – Why? Why? Because she’s afraid of these pressures. In Turkey, unfortunately, they created this fear of sovereignty. When I went to Balıkesir, I realized that this empire of fear was more formed. That’s why I realized I couldn’t do anything there, I couldn’t shelter.
I started the same job again in Diyarbakir. I work in the driving school industry. I hope there will be good days. I’m thankful. I read a statement from Hz. Ali. He says, “I’d rather be a thousand times oppressed than once cruel.” I thank my Lord for this. We are loved in the sight of Lord, who has made us among the oppressed. He acted us in line with the oppressed. Therefore, I praise my Lord, as a 54 year old man. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an (verse Zumer, 47): “if the wrong-doers had all that is in the earth and the like of it with it, they would certainly offer it as ransom from the evil of the torment on the Day of Resurrection.” He will want to give him to the man whom he has persecuted, but he will not receive the blessing from him, nor shall he be accepted.
We could have been on the side of the oppressors. We could have applauded those who persecute unknowingly. But my Lord has made us with the oppressed. I believe we must be thankful for that. I’m very hopeful for the future. For every night is a morning; in the words of my Lord, “there is comfort after every hardship”; the darkest cloud is the nearest of light , I believe that this cruelty will soon be over. Some friends say it would take years. I don’t believe it’ll take years.
In fact, I believe it’s over. I believe it will be over in a very short time frame. Our Lord, in whom we believe, how would it not end? There are kids in prison. Thousands of babies in prisons. How should my Lord not end it, who hears the voice of weeping children, and the voice of the grieving mothers and fathers and grandfathers? Now the tyrants are given a respite. Of course, my concern is: I fear this cruelty is so heavy that the scales of the world cannot weigh. Therefore, this cruelty remains in the day of judgement.
How will the scales of the world weigh people who died in car accidents on their way to visit their mothers, fathers, relatives in prison, or babies drowned in the Meric river while fleeing from persecution?
What faith will weigh that? Because I believe that the recompense of this cruelty cannot be measured by the measure of the world, I have the belief that the punishment for this cruelty will remain in the Hereafter. We have faith. We say “the world is a guest house,”, “the world is like a shade.”
Allah Almighty says, “Such days, we deal them out in turns among people” They could be in the shade today. We could be under sun. Tomorrow the shadow will pass to us. Life has taught us that from now on we will pay more attention to justice, and be more vulnerable. Perhaps by being persecuted, we became more understanding of the troubles of the people who were persecuted in the east Anatolia for many years. We felt it. So that when the shade comes to us tomorrow, when there are opportunities given to us, when events stop; we would be more conscious, more compassionate, more just. Allah Almighty has subjected such a test because he loves us. I hope it’ll be better. Now the shadow is about to go over them. The sun is about to come upon them now. I hope we’re almost there.
When the first event happened, when the cops came, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t care. We had books that were legal, they took my husband because of 10 or 15 books. He left for detention. But he stayed in prison for about 28 months. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my three kids. I had to move two houses. When this happened, I moved the house on the eve of Eid. Because they confiscated everything of our assets and morals. I didn’t know anything about it. No written documents have been issued before. They took my husband in a week after the coup. I was running “Leader 21” and “Kayapinar” driving school. I’ve been in this business since 2000. After Mr. Suleyman was imprisoned, for no reason, Ministry of Finance, and Education officers came early in the morning. “We have confiscated your driving school due to law 667.” I wanted to know the motive. “What’s the motive? Did I steal or do drugs? Is there any banned book?” And they said, “You are not guilty of anything. We have to shut it down because of law 667.”
Personnel, vehicles; I had my own ecosystem. Too much mud-slinging, too outcast. My kids and I had a lot of trouble on the way to prison. At first, no one spoke to anyone, even though they knew each other. I have three girls, the little one has had a little trouble. Obviously, she had illnesses.
And when I wasn’t home, the closet fell on her. I never made it, we had a lot of trouble. I don’t know how this process goes on. My teaching certificate still hasn’t been given back. My diploma was confiscated.
Even though I get the police security clearance paper, I can’t work at the Ministry of Education or anywhere. I’m unemployed and we’re victims.