Burak KahramanCOMMENTSEnglish

LIVES GONE TO SEED IN PRISON

By Burak Kahraman

 I do not want to be misunderstood. The ‘gone to seed’ in the title does not mean deteriorating,  perishing or ending. On the contrary, I allude to existence. I am talking about a seed in the heart of the earth blossoming into life. It seemingly disappears yet springs back from the bosom of Mother Nature multiplied a hundred times.

If you are innocent, if you scream in pain, if you do not give up your beliefs or ideas despite all threats and torture, then you do not perish when your body leaves the world. Rather, you become a source of belief and hope.

If it is your sole aim to live your faith and serve humanity, you deem the world and the assets it contains as inconsequential as a mosquito.

If you are walking under the guidance of the hadith, “If the world were worth as much as a mosquito’s wing to Allah, disbelievers would not be able to have a sip of water from it,” you view the world as the sowing field for the Hereafter and concentrate on being a good servant. You do not want status, reputation or fame to even approach you in your dreams.

When you have these values, your death simply heralds rebirth. Some may think that they have finished you off, but you have instead bloomed into life.

The prisons in Turkey have come to be remembered by such instances of perishing and revival.

Unfortunately, the last life ‘to have perished’ was that of Teoman Gökçe, former member of the HSYK whom everyone in judiciary circles loved and respected. For years he worked as an examining magistrate. He settled thousands of cases in the Court of Cassation. He was adored for his modesty, friendliness and kindness. It was for this reason that he was coerced into becoming a member of the HSYK – despite his wish to the contrary – by his colleagues of numerous creeds and worldviews. But each time he plainly stated the fact that he did not wish to be a candidate because ‘there were others who were better than’ him. He was coaxed in the end and became a HSYK member after receiving six thousand votes from all circles.

He kept his door and his heart open to everyone during his office. He did not act in accordance with orders from either politicians or a sect, as claimed by some. He simply tried to do his job honestly and fairly.

Even his new position could not change him or erode his values. He would bow his head in embarrassment, as he got into the official car provided by the institution, as if he were doing something wrong and he did not have a right to use public property.

Some of his colleagues, former HSYK members among them, testified against him in order to get themselves off the hook, even though this meant sending him to his death, yet no one could put forward any evidence at all that even hinted at a digression from justice. None of the statements contained anything but his election campaign efforts and religious conversations, both of which are guaranteed by laws, the constitution and international agreements.

He was trying to lead his life according to principles laid down by both Al-Ghazali, who said, “The world is a heap of trash; only dogs persue it,” and Said Nursi, who said, “The world is the land where seeds are sown for the hereafter, the cropland of Eden.”

And Teoman Gökçe passed away to the hereafter on the 2nd of April, 2018 to be with his parents, who had died whilst he was in prison, to reap what he had sowed in the field of the world and to inshallah settle in Eden. They attributed his death to a heart attack, yet he was healthy when he entered prison. He had no heart problems. As newspapers report, the guards didn’t intervene until an hour and a half after the panic button was hit, which was just another omission in the long chain of neglect.

It is a fact that prisoners are slowly killed with the drugs put in their food and drinks. Dozens of people have so far been killed in prisons through torture and other means. Some, they said, committed suicide, others died of heart attacks or other illnesses. Domestic law and international agreements hold states accountable for keeping detainees alive. The state has positive accountability for protecting life.

Yet one fact remains clear: the detainees and prisoners, who are victims of the witch hunt, have been denied medical treatment in the prisons, which have been turned into ‘houses of death’. Did the powers-that-be, not declare that they would not even give water to these terrorists and would make them beg to be killed? And so they have been left for dead.

One of the victims was Mustafa Erdoğan, a member of the Court of Cassation who had served justice for decades. He was taken into custody and then arrested on the 21st of December, 2016 after a raid on a private hospital in Antalya where he was being treated for a diagnosed brain tumour. All requests for treatment and release were denied. Mr Erdoğan, whose requests for release were denied until he collapsed in a coma, and was taken to hospital. Even then, his family was not allowed to see the unconscious judge. He died on the 22nd of August, 2016.

Teoman Gökçe, Mustafa Erdoğan, Gökhan Açıkkollu (the teacher who lost his life due to the torture he was subjected to when in custody), the Maden family (who drowned in the Aegean Sea), Ayşe Abdurrezzak (the teacher who was dismissed with a decree and drowned in the Evros River) and her children, and many others are now on the other side waiting to settle scores with their torturers and libellers. I am sure these kind souls, who never lacked compassion and pity in their lives, will forgive their persecutors. Yet there will be no escape from Judgment Day.

Teoman Gökçe and the others will be remembered fondly for as long as this world still stands. Meanwhile, those who turned their world into a dungeon, will be remembered with the following lines sung after the death of Halet Effendi, an abhorred government official from the era of Sultan Mahmut II:

‘He neither found comfort nor gave the world peace,

He fell headlong. Now it’s time for the dead to think.’

 

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