Women Meet for Jailed Journalist Ayşe Düzkan

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In the 32nd year of “March Against Beating”, women came together in Yoğurtçu Park in Kadıköy, İstanbul on May 18 and expressed solidarity with imprisoned journalist and writer Ayşe Düzkan.

Sending their messages of solidarity, women said, “If the future will be different than today, the future will also be ours, the future will be woman.”

Her request for transfer to open prison rejected

Feminist journalist and writer Ayşe Düzkan was sentenced to 18 months in prison for having solidarized with Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was closed by a Statutory Decree during the State of Emergency. Düzkan has been behind bars since January 29, 2019.

Düzkan submitted a petition and requested her transfer to an open prison in accordance with the procedure. Her petition was first left unanswered, then, it has been rejected.

‘We remember our past to build our future’

As reported by sendika.org news website, reading out the statement for the press on behalf of the women, Beyhan Demir said,

“Today, we are here for Ayşe Düzkan, who was an editor-in-chief on watch of Özgür Gündem for a day to solidarize with the newspaper; but, we don’t forget the journalists who are tried, arrested and deprived of their freedoms, either. Because we know that defending freedom of expression and our right to obtain information also means defending ourselves.”

Stating that women made a beginning at Yoğurtçu Park 32 years ago, Demir continued as follows:

“They said, ‘Women exist.’ Ayşe, one of the women speaking from the feminist rostrum set up that day, addressed the friends and enemies in following words: ‘This world has been organized to confine us to our homes; we, who are the half of this world, will make this world our homes by breaking down the wall of our houses. Because if the future will be different than today, the future will also be ours, the future will be woman, hello!’

“Dear Ayşe, you are away from us today; we are saying ‘Hello’, we are saying ‘Hello, heval (friend in Kurdish)’ to you so that you can hear us, so that we can join our voices with you.

“As you said on March 8, 1997, ‘We remember our past to build our future’ and we repeat our intention to change our lives from today to tomorrow.”

While the letter of Stella Ovadia, one of the organizers of the March Against Beating, was read out by Sakine Günel, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Ankara MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu, one of the women who started the march 32 years ago, also made a short speech. Kerestecioğlu said,

“We carry feminism in our hearts. And Ayşe was one of its pioneers. Ayşe will come out and continue writing in lowercase letters.”

At the end of their meeting, women sent a message of solidarity to Düzkan.

‘I thank her for representing us there’

One of the women attending the event also shared what she lived through during her marriage and made a call for solidarity to women:

‘I was beaten and cheated on for two years. I was attempted to be killed. I don’t know Ms. Ayşe and I wasn’t here 32 year ago. I am 28 years old now. I came across you here. I thank her for being on her feet for 110 days, for representing us there. It is an unlawfulness, it is not fair. Though I was tried to be killed, I still stood up on my feet. I am making a call to all women from here: Please stand up and ask us for help. We are strong together.”

What happened?

On January 18, 2018, Ayşe Düzkan and Ragıp Duran, who were tried for participating in the Editors-in-Chief on Watch campaign in solidarity with the closed Özgür Gündem newspaper, and its columnists Mehmet Ali Çelebi and Hüseyin Bektaş and former Co-Editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol were sentenced to 9 years and 9 months in prison in total.

Having their final hearing at the İstanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court, five journalists were sentenced to prison on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).

Examining the verdicts of conviction, the court of appeal upheld the prison sentences on November 29, 2018. Düzkan has been behind bars since January 29, 2019.