Parliamentary deputies in prison given pedometers as New Year’s gift

Parliamentary deputies in prison given pedometers as New Year’s gift

Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdağ and Forest and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu sent a pedometer and two saplings to all deputies to celebrate the new year including the imprisoned Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) deputy Mustafa Balbay and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Engin Alan. The gift package bore a note that read “We will work together for a better Turkey.”

The wives of the imprisoned deputies reacted sternly to the gifts, calling them an attempt to make fun of their husbands’ imprisonment. They reportedly sent the presents back to the ministers.

Balbay’s wife, Gülşah Balbay, asked what her husband could do with the saplings in his cell in Silivri Prison, where one cannot get a handful of soil.

Balbay has been under arrest for more than 1,300 days and has been kept in a two-person cell for the last 665.

“Are they expecting me to plant them in my garden so that I can measure out the passing years without my husband by seeing it grow? My husband’s cell is 8.5 square meters in size. Is the pedometer to help him measure his walks up and down in his cell? If the minister wants to measure footsteps he can do so to the people who marched to the Silivri prison on Dec. 13,” she said.

Alan’s wife, Nevin Alan, said they wanted no presents from the ruling party. “The note mentions working together, and I am wishing them all success in their work. But I wonder whether the gentlemen have any idea about the sort of work they have been carrying out in Silivri?” she said.

The list of imprisoned deputies who received the ministerial New Year’s gifts include CHP deputy Mehmet Haberal, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies Faysal Sarıyıldız, Selma Irmak, Gülser Yıldırım, İbrahim Ayhan and independent deputy from the southern province of Van Kemal Aktaş.