After 40 years…

After 40 years…

Forty years ago yesterday, early in the morning on May 6, 1972. In this land. Three young sons in their early twenties were hanged in a prison garden. They were Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, who proudly declared at that bizarre mock trial that other than being patriots they had committed no crime.

Why were they hanged? Did they kill anyone? No. Did they embezzle a lira from the coffers of the state? No. Did they distribute alms from state coffers to their fans? No. Did their fathers obtain them “unfit for military service” documents on grounds they had “testicular cancer” but they later fathered three kids? No. They were leftists. They were patriots. They were opponents of the military coup. They were against Turkey’s NATO membership as well as the fashionable “strategic partnership” relations with Washington.

Not all their ideas might have survived until now should they have been spared from the gallows, but they had ideas, perceptions, convictions of their own, shared by the youth of the country. They were patriots who were wanted to be silenced. Yes, it was an extraordinary period. It was in the aftermath of the 1971 “coup by memorandum.” The mentality in power in the Turkey of 1972 acted with “You will hang a few of them and they will all come in line” fascism. Still, those three sons were killed by the national ignorance to the erosion of values headed by independence and sovereignty for which this country fought with meager resources a magnificent War of Liberation. Forty years on the heart of the nation is bleeding. At the most sacred temple, deep in our hearts, we are still pleading for forgiveness.

Deniz, Yusuf and Hüseyin never repented. Walking to the gallows they were as determined as they were at that rally in Istanbul condemning the port call by the American Sixth Fleet.

Forty years after these three rosebuds were cut off and buried in the bosom of this land they loved so much thank God we no longer have the death penalty to be applied to silence unwanted critical voices, patriots. Yet, in today’s Turkey not only our prisons are full of patriots who are wanted to be silenced, more are imprisoned in themselves through various vicious methods of “public diplomacy.” Unfortunately, this land has become an empire of fear.

Discrimination is a crime

The last time a legal arrangement was done as regards their professional status and rights it was in the aftermath of the 1960 coup. Since then, sometimes vocally, often silently, non-commissioned officers of this country are repenting against the discrimination they are subjected to. Very much like the apartheid regime of South Africa or the black-white segregation times in America, officers and non-commissioned officers have different busses, restaurants, clubs and even protocol to be adhered to at their funerals.
Now, non-commissioned officers are demanding a correction to their situation; an end to the discrimination they are subjected to. The office of the chief of general staff, the prime minister and the entire web of power holders are condemning the non-commissioned officers and everyone who lent an attentive ear to their rampant problems.

These are no longer the times of silencing people through statements or intimidation.

deniz gezmis,