Letter To the Peoples of Turkey and the World — Semih Özakça

8 June 2017

To the Peoples of Turkey and the World;

In our struggle for bread, honour and justice, in order to be the voice of the workers that were dismissed and deprived of their bread by Executive Orders issued with the excuse of the state of exception, in order to go back to our job, we revolutionary democrat public workers are in the 200+ days of our resistance and 80+ days of our hunger strike. We have a single demand “We want our job, our students back!” As intellectuals of the society we were also pursuing our struggle against unfairnesses and injustices before our jobs were terminated. Since 2012, there was an intention to deprive public workers of their job security and abolish permanent positions, we were hearing about it. The current situation we face with the excuse of the state of exception is the product of an idea that was planned and programmed in advance. Thus AKP rule used the state of exception as a justification and grounds for their politics of precarity, they turned the situation into an opportunity and deprived many public workers of their bread with the excuse of the coup attempt. But what does the coup attempt have to do with us revolutionary democrat workers? Those who have to do with the coup are so open that they are now trying to run the country. Because they do their politics using the methods and conspiracies of those they associate with the coup. Why did they dismiss us from our jobs? By dismissing us from our jobs, they were to comb out those who will oppose their politics; they were to do what they want without distress, without annoying obstacles on their way, and they were to suppress all of those who were to oppose them, to prevent the discordant voices. A ruler threatening a people with their bread, trying to discipline them with hunger to rule them, is the end point that’s reached. Bread is sacred, the right to work is the minimum condition of living. What is expected of workers who are deprived of their right to work, whose bread is being played at. To sit and shut up? To resist for the right to live and work? In our case what must be done by necessity is the second option. We resist…

During our resistance the rulers didn’t deign to say a word for months other than police attacks and custodies… In the 60+ days of our indefinite hunger strike, as our resistance became quite visible, our families were able to talk to the deputy prime minister; but as expected, they smiled to our faces and attacked us from behind. When they first tried to arrest us, we’d told them that we’d go on with our hunger strike. As we didn’t abandon our demand for our jobs despite all attacks, despite torture and oppression, the only remaining option for the rulers were to arrest us. Or to return us back to our jobs. They thought they could end the hunger strike, end the support by arresting us, they were wrong. This time, the politics of oppression that they’ve always been doing backfired and growed the resistance even more. We were arrested but our resistance, our hunger strike goes on with determination. We haven’t lost a milimeter from our hope, our faith and our will. On the contrary, we demand our bread with a stronger voice even. We endorse the prices we will pay with a smile. Maybe the price of this resistance will be too heavy, maybe it can’t be prevented that some people will pay it more heavily. The rulers are determined to insistently defend their injustices and unfairnesses, they are determined to enforce things that they will regret. Against our own insistence and determination this obstinacy of theirs has no effect. In any case, our hunger strike will go on until we go back to our jobs, we’ll perhaps go on to grow our action. Against someone’s will to take back one’s bread and honour, another will that shows enmity has no effect. We endeavor to live, they endeavor to exploit, to appropriate what we have obtained through our labor, through our toil.

Our bread is the reason for our fight

Our honour is the reason for our fight

Seeking justice is the reason for our fight

We know that this fight will only end when a just order will be established. Our indefinite hunger strike, when we take back our jobs.

It was clear that those who detained us by breaking into our home the night of the day we signed for judicial control were malevolent and that they aimed to torture and torment us. If the prosecution had reasonably called us for testimonial we would go to testify even if we would find out that an order was given to arrest us. The aim of breaking into our home is to criminalize our action and ourselves by producing a demagogy on terror.

The element of crime found after searching our home for hours is merely a giant nothing. They were also aware that they wouldn’t be able to find any element of crime in our home. In fact they didn’t come to find such an element. After the searching and the documents were completed they wanted to forcibly get us out of our home. Their aim was to force us outside and torture us. They forcibly tossed us into the detention car like a sack. This torture done at midnight could have direr consequences for our health.

We were detained and we were thrown into custody. The police commander, when our lawyers told him about the effects of the conditions of custody, he answered: “custody is no different than this, it’s neat and clean”. He saw that all custodies were jampacked and they put me as the third person into a place for two. So I was forced to lay down on the dusty and dirty concrete floor. I also couldn’t take the water, sugar and salt I needed. We informed them that we wouldn’t take water and sugar if we wouldn’t be brought to the prosecution immediately. The prosecutor, apart from asking about my intentions and thoughts, told only a single concrete thing that I did. This: The video of a song that I played and sang was shared by a facebook address, and I either liked it or shared it. When I repeated his question, I was able to apprehend that I was being blamed for the action in question. One of the interesting questions by the prosecutor who wants to learn about my thoughts: “Have you thought that these actions would lead to insurrections like Gezi and Tekel?”

I told them that that wasn’t my problem, that other people should think about it, that my hunger strike will end when I’m given back my job. But during my defense and our lawyers’ defense the prosecution was always doing something with his phone not seeming to have any interest in us. He interrupted the lawyers’ defense to tell them to be quick and that he is busy. While our lawyers were proceeding with their defense, Mr Prosecutor told that he has to take his child from school, that his wife is busy and she can’t take the child so he has to go. It was clear from the beginning that this was being done by an order. The indications were clear: The break into our home, tens of policemen deployed inside and outside the courthouse, tens of riot police blockading our location within the courthouse, they even took the prosecutor into the blockade instead of his room, and the prosecutor’s “predetermined and disinterested attitude” was telltale. When our defenses were completed in the prosecution office the prosecutor had requested some time for decision. At that moment Counter Terrorism Police Commander and another policeman entered the prosecutor’s room. They stayed within the prosecutor’s room for several minutes. They even received tea and returned their empty glasses. After speaking to the prosecutor for 40-45 minutes the policemen left the room. What does the prosecutor speak, even the prosecutor who is busy and doesn’t have time, speak to the CT policemen while deciding about us, what does the CT policemen speak? One can easily guess the answer. Like AKP recklessly violating the laws, it was imposed on the prosecutor via the policemen that he should dispatch us for arrestment in accordance with an order. Without any evidence for the crimes imputed to us, we can say that what was done and what happened is the best evidence for the injustice, for the fact that justice cannot be served with this mentality. Finally the prosecutor did not surprise us and made his decision to “dispatch for arrestment”. Now this prosecutor will speak sweetly to his child, he will caress his or her head. But at the same period, my mother will be kept into custody because she made a public statement to support me…

We were made to wait for hours in the courthouse. When we received the news that a group in custody including my mother and my wife would be brought to the courthouse I got excited that I would be able to see them. Some time later I heard that the prosecutor decided to bring them to the prosecution office the next day. When I heard this decision I was convinced that they didn’t want me to see, to encounter my wife and my mother, I got angry. The work hours were over. We are being made to wait in the courthouse to be arrested since the early morning hours. We gave our defence to the judgeship on duty and we got arrested. While the judge was reading the decision, also while he was listening to us, he had an empty stare. It was as if he wanted to leave as soon as possible. How did I get this? You won’t find this interesting but; when I was facing the judge, again, while our lawyers were making the defense, he looked at the lawyers to call out “there are too many trials, make it quick”. If people deny what I tell, I can show the video and audio recordings, but such people would erase them too. Let’s say: They know themselves and we know them. After the arrestment decision I learned that my wife and my mother was brought to the courthouse. I would give anything to see them at that moment. Several lawyers behind us were chanting to support us when we were being brought to the prison. We also had chants on our tongue, our fist in the air. When we got to the elevator, other people in the courthouse around us looked us with eyes filled with love to say “good bye, take great care of yourselves”. We greeted them… And the prison…

Nuriye was brought to Sincan Women; I was brought to Sincan No 1 F-type. The prison conditions and especially isolation is already a heavy condition for any person; it gets much heavier for someone who is in a hunger strike and whose movement capabilities are getting more and more restricted. When there were death fasts in prisons, the governments’ method was to release the death fasters to prevent them from dying or getting crippled in their hands. By changing the direction of the earlier policy of getting people outside, they took us inside. By keeping us captive they were to slander us at their will, and intimidate people that whatever the conditions, their freedom can be taken from them. As soon as we got into the prison, the statements by the Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu began coming out. Whomever Süleyman Soylu spoke about, he had never failed to show his hate, lie with impunity and make abundant threats. When we were arrested, he again insisted to behave according to his disposition: he counted on TV our democratic actions and activities like poster hanging and public statements to present them as terrorist activities, he told about the accusations in our former trials, he claimed that we were in fact DHKP-C members, he presented the fact that we were detained 30 times during our resistance for our job and our bread like an evidence that we were savage criminals. In addition to this litany he got as low as any other ruler to say “they are eating”. Such statements are neither the first nor will be the last.

Those who have the potential to call any democratic action or activity a terrorist action or activity, those who consider the smallest dissent unfavourable and seize people’s freedoms, those who seize the breads of all those who don’t join them, are guilty of these deeds that they have committed. And those who commit crimes are condemned to be called to account in face of history and in face of the people sooner or later.

Our arrest aimed to desperately restrain the support we received by keeping us away from the people, but the support we receive has transcended national boundaries, we were reciprocated by support messages, actions and activities from many people, many countries and organizations. National support actions continue to face police attacks and custodies. So much so that in Yüksel street, our home and our place of action, they surrounded the Human Rights Monument with barriers, punishing and arresting the monument. Like everything they do, they are unable to apprehend the contradiction of the situation. Since we identify with the Human Rights Monument, while they intend to keep us away from the people, they give the daily message that there are people who “want their jobs”…

These practices and pressures weren’t able to reduce our voice and it won’t. Our voice will get stronger and more enthusiastic. If the rulers continue their attacks and continue to deny our demands, we will in turn continue our resistance with determination and grow our resistance.

1) Our hunger strike will continue in the prison with insistence until we get results.

2) Against the efforts to reduce our voices in the place of resistance and in all the squares, we will continue to raise our voice.

The struggle for bread and honour found an echo as a result of the rulers’ insistence on unfairness and injustice, in proportion to this insistence. The issue has grown as a result of the rulers’ unconditional pursuing of the unacceptable wrongs that they have committed – in order not to eat their own words. We aren’t among those who say “I was deceived, I didn’t know, I couldn’t see”. Yes we are revolutionary-democrat public workers. They were to blend us into what they call FETÖ, dismiss us as fait accompli, but it didn’t work out. When our voices were reciprocated by the peoples of Turkey and the world, people reacted to the rulers and they were surprised and baffled due to this situation, they got hasty. Because now all the world has seen that the ones who were dismissed by being associated with the coup had nothing to do with the coup. Even this situation is sufficient to show the illegitimacy of the dismissals in the public sector. They are not right. Their attacks and arrests are efforts to suppress their guilt, it’s guilty conscience.

We are proud to be the revolutionary-democrat intellectuals of this country. In the eyes of the rulers all opposition and all revolutionary-democrats are either terrorist or those who are closest candidates to be a terrorist. The people and the intellectuals are the usual suspects. But despite all their deceivedness, those who get rich and start a family and then take the bread from the hands of the workers are whiter than white, is that so?..

Against Israel’s zionism, the Palestinian captives that we are in solidarity have concluded their hunger strike with gains, but AKP government has proved that they are more thick-skinned, more insensitive to the people and more cruel than Israel’s zionism.

From the day we have been held captive, my wife Esra ÖZKAN ÖZAKÇA and my mother Sultan ÖZAKÇA have also started an Indefinite Hunger Strike demanding that I be returned to my job. As the impact of a hunger strike changes from one person to another, as one cannot measure the injury that one day of hunger strike causes on someone, each and every day is of great importance. The rulers want to overlook the hunger this family is suffering. If we all raise the same voice the rulers can’t even potentially overlook. Thus let’s be in unity to propagate the voice of the hunger strikes, let’s struggle together. Let’s proceed toward the light and the bread after the black smoke disperses…

I’m sure intellectuals, artists and all the people have something great and small to make the cries of my mother and my wife heard.

The beautiful fellow men and women of the peoples of Turkey and the World, since you’ve become a voice in our voice, since you’ve given power to our power, I hug you a billion-fold. I don’t know how long our lifetime will be on the scene of history but what matters is that the short and long history writes us with resistance, with struggle and with kindliness.

I fear death
If it comes aimless and suddenly
I don’t fear death
If history writes it with golden letters
I fear living
Without honour and in hiding
I don’t fear living
With courage and my head held high
Let this be our last words;
We loved our homeland and this people so much.

We Want Our Jobs Back!
Long Live Our Hunger Strike!
We Are Workers, We Are Right, We Will Win!

I’ll see you in sunny days.


English: Işık Barış Fidaner


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