Turkish woman tries to prove she’s alive for 23 years

Turkish woman tries to prove she’s alive for 23 years

Dinçer Gökçe – ISTANBUL
Turkish woman tries to prove she’s alive for 23 years “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” Mark Twain quipped more than 100 years ago. Now, a 61-year-old Turkish woman is also saying the same thing, but she’s having a tough time convincing authorities that it’s the truth.

Sevim Hayva, who now lives in Canada and possesses Canadian citizenship, has spent the past 23 years attempting to prove that she is still living after a step-sibling allegedly registered her as “deceased” to prevent her from getting a share of the family’s inheritance. 

Hayva’s parents divorced when she was 4 years old and she was given to another family, growing up in their household before getting married. Hayva had two children but later divorced and moved abroad. 

Her father, meanwhile, married for the third time when she was abroad. The father, identified only as M., married a woman identified as E.K. The couple had six children, while Hayva, along with her sisters, K. Hayva and H.A., were also registered as the couple’s children. 

However, one of Hayva’s brothers, identified only as A., applied to the village head and gave a false declaration, asserting that Hayva and her sister K. had died. 

As such, the two have been officially registered as “dead” since Feb. 1, 1993.

After many years, another of Hayva’s siblings, identified only as H.A., tried to reach her in Canada. H.A. determined that her sister had been registered as deceased but discovered her location through online search. The siblings met after many years, during which H.A. informed her sister that she was registered as “dead” in Turkey. 

Hayva attempted to come to Turkey to correct the mistake, but was faced with a number of difficulties, including the fact that the village head who made the mistake was now dead himself.

She presented her citizenship and insurance documents, bank statement and passport information that she obtained from Canada, but could not make any headway.

“A total of 23 years ago today, the village head, who is dead now, registered Sevim Hayva dead upon her brother’s statements,” Hayva’s lawyer, Hayrullah Çuhadaroğlu, told daily Hürriyet, adding that the woman was accepted as being alive “all over the world, except Turkey.”

According to her lawyer, Hayva failed to receive her fair share of the inheritance that was left from her father and mother and that she also could not obtain any real estate or movable properties. 

She has tried to travel to Turkey a number of times, but was rejected each time. In other instances, she was held in custody by the police due to the mistake and missed the plane as a result in airports. 

Because she was not “officially living,” she was neither arrested nor freed in the airports for days. 

“She was in limbo, in a sense,” Çuhadaroğlu said. 

As years passed, Hayva managed to apply to a court in Turkey and file a complaint to a court in the western province of İzmir with a request to correct the mistake in her registration in 2015. 

Necessary evidence was collected and the court on Aug. 31 ordered that the registration stating Hayva as “deceased” be annulled.

The procedures regarding the cancelation of the registration of her sister, K. Hayva, are continuing.

Meanwhile, the court filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor’s office against those who made the false declaration.