Sevimli not ‘fleeing’ Turkey amid plans to return to France pending appeal
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Sevil Sevimli, 21, was sentenced last week to a total of five years, two months and 15 days in jail. DHA photoSevil Sevimli, a young French student of Turkish origin who was convicted to over five years in prison on Feb. 15, has announced plans to soon return to France after a ban on overseas travel was lifted as part of her sentencing.
“I am not fleeing Turkey. The reason for [my going] is that my family and my friends are there. I am still a student and I intend to pass my exams when I go back,” she said in a press conference on Feb. 19. “Of course, I will come back again to Turkey. I came here in the first place to learn about Turkey.”
Prosecutors accused the 21-year-old student, who was sentenced to a total of five years, two months and 15 days in jail, of being a “member of an armed organization” and “spreading propaganda.” Another student, Seren Özçelik, was also sentenced to four years and nine months in prison on the same charges as Sevimli in the same case.
Sevimli graduated from University Lumière Lyon 2’s communications studies faculty and has been accepted to a master program in the same department.
Sevimli, who was studying at Anadolu University in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir while in Turkey, reiterated her socialist convictions, emphasizing that Turkish youth pay a price for their political affiliation. “I fight for equality, freedom and democracy within the framework of the law. In Turkey, the price for this is captivity. Unfortunately, there are hundreds, thousands of students in jails for the same reason. This is very worrying and sad,” she said.
Sevimli also said her friends in France were shocked at her tribulations and that the French Communist Party’s youth wing was planning to organize a letter campaign to provide a platform for students incarcerated in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Sevimli’s lawyer, İnayet Aksu, accused the government of intimidating students. Aksu said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was able to visit retired Gen. Ergin Saygun, who was convicted in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) case, at a hospital without being charged with spreading propaganda for an organization but that Sevimli was charged solely for participating in an event at the grave of Mahir Çayan, one of the leaders of the Turkish leftist student movement in the 1960s.
“In the case of Sevil and Seren Özçelik, we saw that leftist are [labeled]. Others can do anything and won’t be punished but [leftist] will be. So be wise, go to school and don’t do anything else. That’s the situation here,” Aksu said.