LETTER FROM ISTANBUL
For a long time Melek Çetinkaya led a life without stories. Married to an accountant, this 43-year-old mother went about maintaining her apartment in a suburb of Ankara and educating her offspring, two boys and a girl, who she was sure were promised a bright future.
His eldest, Furkan, was all his pride. As a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Istanbul, his career as a fighter pilot seemed straightforward. Until the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, where he was arrested and imprisoned at the Silivri high security prison on the outskirts of Istanbul.
On May 19, 2017, Furkan and his comrades, then aged 20, were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. The judge is all the more determined that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his prime minister at the time, Binali Yidirim, have filed a civil action. Melek, who attends the hearing with other mothers, feels the ground slip under his feet. ” How is it possible ? These kids are not putschists, they only obeyed the orders of their commander, who was never worried, ” she explains, calm and dignified, in a cafe in the Balat district of Istanbul.
“March for Justice”
Dressed in traditional “Pardesu”, this loose-fitting coat worn by women in conservative circles, her head covered with a colorful scarf, the mother recounts how her life changed completely after the conviction of her son. “Since no one wanted to hear me, I had no choice but to take to the streets. “
She then decides to organize a “March of Justice” to draw attention to the plight of unjustly convicted cadets. Several dozen other mothers are ready to walk with her from Güven Park in Ankara to Silivri Prison in Istanbul. The route, more than 500 kilometers, is announced on Melek’s Twitter account, which has 20,000 supporters.
At 2 p.m. on January 19, at the time set for the start of the walk, the mother just got out of the metro when she was seized by the police and taken to the police station. Dozens of women who intended to walk with her are arrested.
Released at two in the morning, arrested again, Melek will spend three days in police custody. Since then, his life has been hell. Indictment for “Membership of a terrorist organization”, she must come to the police station every Wednesday and every Saturday. A police car is hiding outside her home, her phone is being tapped, her husband has received threats. The police have warned her, if she tries to walk again she will go to jail.