BDP MP gives details of torture tragedy in prison

BDP MP gives details of torture tragedy in prison

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
BDP MP gives details of torture tragedy in prison

Detailing the torture she suffered in Diyarbakır Prision in the 1980s, BDP deputy Kışanaks says she was not allowed to have even bath for two years. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Following a row with Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Gülten Kışanak has opened up about the torture she experienced while in prison in Diyarbakır following the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup, saying the torture Kurds have faced evoked a rage that has contributed to the country’s present, tense situation.

Kışanak was detained in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in July of 1980, just before the coup occurred, while she was a 19-year-old university student at Dicle University. After the military coup she was sent to Diyarbakır prison’s women’s ward with 85 others. During her time in prison Kışanak said she and six other women in particular were subjected to severe torture.

Kışanak said incidents of torture evoked feelings of rage in Kurds, leading to the present situation.

Trauma stories

According to Kışanak, Com. Esat Oktay Yıldıran, who was executed in Istanbul in 1988 for his role in the tortures of the day, was the one responsible for her and the other women’s pain. The female prisoners identified his name with the notion of the state in those times, Kışanak said. “He is responsible for the trauma I endure to this day,” Kışanak said. “Every single moment we were under great torture there.”

“One day, Yıldıran came to the ward with a group of soldiers and they wanted us to stand at attention. When I resisted, he insulted me and tried to choke me by wrapping my scarf around my neck. The torture began with that and continued in blood and tears for two years without cease,” Kışanak said.

Kışanak and the other women in her ward were subjected to physical, verbal and psychological abuse, she said. “There were always insults, curses and harassment. They were always finding an excuse to torture [us],” Kışanak said, adding that they used bandoliers, police clubs, planks, sticks, bayonets, electric cables and hosepipes to torment them. “They were using every one of [those items] on people regardless of gender,” Kışanak said.

The severity of the torture inflicted upon her while imprisoned was unbearable for the thin, 19-year-old woman that she was. Kışanak was unable to take a proper bath for two years and barely ate anything. “We tried to clean ourselves with cold water and a torn piece of cloth for two years. We were constantly ill and wounded,” she said.

Meeting with family

Over the course of these two years Kışanak saw her family only four times, each meeting lasting only three minutes. During her first six months in the ward, her family thought she was dead.

It was because of the painful experiences she endured in prison that Kışanak said she decided to become a journalist and enter politics. According to Kışanak, while she became the co-chair of the BDP one of her friends from the ward, Sakine Cansız, joined the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and became a guerilla fighter. In Kışanak’s opinion this was because of the torture they experienced in Diyarbakır prison.

“Diyarbakır prison was a breaking point in the Kurdish issue. The violence in that prison was a determinant in turning the issue into such a conflict. There were 85 people in the women’s ward and none of them had radical political views or were a member of an organization. They were all young university students, just like me. The state tried to ignore us and attempted to create slaves of us.
They tried to get rid of the Kurds. [The torture] created a situation that led Kurds to distance themselves from the state,” Kışanak said. “The problem cannot be solved only with conscience.”

Along with the incidents of the 1980s, Kışanak also suggested that Arınç sympathize with events that occurred in the 90s and 2000s, such as the Uludere incident. Kışanak said she sides with a change of views and creating political solidarity. “Today’s practices are not very far from those of Diyarbakır prison. We need to shape the future, not [waste] the day. The state needs to undergo a radical change if we really want to have a future together. The state should accept this. Kurds are main citizens of this country. They have their own language, identity and culture. They deserve respect and importance. It would not be easy to solve the issue before reaching this stage,” Kışanak said.