Tears of a father
Fatih Hilmioğlu, a successful physician and a professor of medicine, was arrested on April 13, 2009, when he was the rector of İnönü University in the eastern province of Malatya. Known for his strong Kemalist and nationalist views, Hilmioğlu was accused of being part of the Ergenekon conspiracy to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government together with a group of retired and on-duty army officers, academics, journalists and writers.
He is still under arrest despite the passage of years; like journalists Mustafa Balbay and Tuncay Özkan, like surgeon-professor Mehmet Haberal, like writer Yalçın Küçük, he has been imprisoned for over three years now without any sentence. Long detention periods have been enabled as a result of a legal reform package by the AK Parti government and have been a matter of criticism since then. Recently, President Abdullah Gül strongly criticized the situation in a speech to open Parliament’s legislative year, since eight deputies elected to Parliament from jail, including Balbay and Haberal, have not been permitted by the courts to freeze their status until they are found guilty and assume their seat in Parliament. Long detentions, as well as their damage to the justice system in Turkey, were highlighted in the 2012 Turkey Progress Report of the European Union and the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights report.
During his stay in Silivri jail west of Istanbul, Hilmioğlu got seriously ill; his serious liver problem turned into cancer. Two days ago, his 22-year-old son Emir, studying at Başkent University in Ankara (which was ironically founded by Haberal) was killed in a traffic accident.
Hilmioğlu was given two days’ permission by the court to attend the funeral; which could be possible after public reaction to the former implementation which forbade some prisoners from attending the funerals of their family members. But when he went home Monday night, he got more bad news. The court had put a ban on him from spending the night with his wife at his home to mourn for their son together. The picture you see on top of this column shows Professor Hilmioğlu by the coffin of his son, shedding tears at the funeral yesterday after spending a very sad night without his family and still without being found guilty of any charge. This is a very sad picture for Turkey in the year 2012.