Jailed journalist-MP ready for ‘marathon’
Ömer Şahin ISTANBUL - Radikal
CHP’s jailed MP Mustafa Balbay. Hürriyet photoMustafa Balbay, an İzmir deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party who is in prison pending trial in the Ergenekon coup-plot case, says he is ready for the busy agenda waiting for him after his possible release from prison.
Balbay, who has spent more than 1,200 days under arrest, said he was trying to keep as fit as prison conditions allow, speaking to daily Radikal at Silivri Prison. He is now physically fit enough to run a marathon, he said.
“I feel fit and healthy. I couldn’t run in the 1990s. I promised myself I would run 21 kilometers,” Balbay said, adding that he wanted to run in the Samsun Marathon again, as he had done six times before.
Actual running will not be the only challenge awaiting Balbay outside prison. As a lawmaker from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Balbay said his priority would be “to contribute to peace.”
Those who think Balbay will pursue “aggressive” politics due to his experiences may be proven wrong. He summarized his policy with a slogan similar to that of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: “Peace in Parliament, peace in politics.”
No feelings of ‘revenge’
“I don’t want anyone else to feel this way,” Balbay said. “The only thing I want to take revenge upon is the emotion of revenge itself. Our society is polarized, and I want to contribute to conciliation.”
Balbay plans to continue writing for the daily Cumhuriyet, adding that he would participate in politics with his pen and be a permanent fixture in the political arena.
The conditions in prison are tough. Balbay tries to get his daily exercise on the ward, which is roughly 30 meters square. “I first had to practice to be able to continuously run in such a small space,” Balbay said.
When asked what he missed the most, Balbay said he mostly missed his wife and children. Balbay’s five-year-old son thinks his father is working and earning money in Silivri.
“Even dreams are different in here. I see myself as under arrest while I am talking with my wife in my dreams,” Balbay said, adding that he also longed for journalism and his friends.
“One needs to protect one’s mind and body first. Extraordinary behaviors sometimes become normal [in prison],” Balbay said. He offered an example: “One of our friends puts on perfume before having a telephone conversation. He says he feels better this way.”
Balbay also commented on the relationship between the suspects at Silivri Prison who are being tried under the Ergenekon Case. They are not fully organized yet, he said. “You cannot even find 4 people agreeing on a subject here. This case cannot be regarded as a legal case. No justice comes from 19 indictments and 5 million additional evidence files. Even the true offender would get lost in such a case. The organization has not been found, either.”