Murderers have more rights than a jailed journalist

Murderers have more rights than a jailed journalist

We have so much pain to endure. Imprisoned journalist Kadri Gürsel, whose indictment has not even been written yet, has been in jail for the past three months. How much longer he will stay in prison is still unknown. His 9-year-old son, Erdem, only saw his father once over these three months. 

Erdem Gürsel, an adorable kid, is a lot mature than his age. He has grown up even more during this time.

But he has difficulties understanding certain things. For instance, he learned that murderers and rapists have visitation rights, while, he cannot see his father. He cannot comprehend why murderers have more rights than his father. 

He regularly asks his mother: “Mom, why do murderers have a right to meet their visitors but my father doesn’t?” 
“I don’t know how to reply to him. It was one of the most desperate moments of my life,” Kadri’s wife Nazire Gürsel said. 

I asked Gürsel what she thought about her husband’s arrest. She said he was taken as a result of an operation against the daily Cumhuriyet and he somehow was also in the bag. “The entire event is far from the concept of logic. We are innocent and suffering,” she said. 

According to his wife, Kadri does his job well - he is an unyielding person and an intellectual. Unfortunately these concepts are not desirable these days in our country. He is not affiliated with any political views, ethnicity or group. It is as if, his wife believes, it could have protected him more if he did have certain connections.  

Married for 22 years, Nazire Gürsel said her husband defied characters of the Turkish male stereotype. “He is a perfect gentleman, not only outside, but also at home, in every moment of our private lives. For instance, he does not expect any service from a woman. I don’t know where his socks are. We have equal say over the way we raise our son Erdem,” she said.  

When I asked her why he was jailed when there wasn’t even an indictment, she told me that this was what hurt her the most. “As the spouses of all arrested people, we all wish that the indictments are prepared as soon as possible, so that the legal process begins. Pre-trail detention should not be a penalty. This is our only wish,” she said.  

The way she maintains serene is her son, who is not even aware of this. When the sense of responsibility dominates, then serenity comes naturally, she said. “We have two cats, Badem and Griş. I am even trying to make sure their psychologies are not deteriorated. I am trying to carry on my daily routines. This is best for me and them,” she said. 

Nazire never would have thought that her husband and being a terrorist would ever go together. “I guess everybody in this country has lived and learnt what a terrorist is and how they are.” She asked if “aggressive writers” are terrorists, then, “what do we call those who blow themselves up or their vehicles apart?”

She has mixed feelings each time she visits him. “I wake up with a headache every Friday. Kadri is a very well-raised person; he has deserved and lived this way all his life. It is the same feeling every time, we ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing here?’”

Kadri always thought he was only making analyses and not insulting anyone. He has been punished but at the same time his family has been punished. 

“Sure, it is the family that suffers the biggest pain. It is our son who is also being punished. It has been almost three months, and he was able to see his father only once, on New Year’s Eve. He heard his voice twice,” she said.