Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Update on our Political Prisoner

Old Sins
And New and Improved Ones!



Last week, across the front pages of several newspapers was a rather startling headline. ‘Prime Minister Erdoğan Apologizes for Dersim’! Never in the history of the republic has the capital ‘s’ State admitted to doing anything slightly wrong and now, an apology for the mini-genocide that has been one of the most stalwart of Turkish taboos. In the same breath, the PM has ordered the arrest of another one hundred people—ranging from the staff of the Kurdish-run newspaper, Özgür Gündem, to Cengiz Kapmaz, the author of Abdullah Öcalan’s biography to my father-in-law’s lawyer. Yes, his lawyer. Where does this leave his defense?  Who knows. Old students are writing on my facebook about how the 'traitors' got what they deserved.
Of course, members of the BDP party have been taken, too, along with lawyers of several other prisoners. One of the government’s spokesmen promised an even bigger round-up soon. It’s a confusing time I suppose--on the one hand apologizing for old sins, on the other merrily committing new ones, but then, the Dersim massacres were ordered under the opposition party’s reign. The apology makes them look bad, so bad in fact that their reaction to it could split the party in two, reducing in size a group of people whose political strength has already shrunken drastically. So maybe it is not so paradoxical after all.
Delal and family visited her father this week—he was in high spirits. The prison apparently makes the prisoners pay for everything from furniture to electricity. He joked that soon they would be footing the bill for the food as well. The other families were not doing well, Delal said. There were a lot of tears, a lot of despair. Ragıp Zarakolu (who writes in the Hrant biography), had no visitors. They were all with his son who has also been jailed—but in a separate place. The Zarakolus have to take turns. Kandıra prison houses one other prisoner of note—Oğun Samast, the prime suspect in the assassination of Hrant Dink. It’s hard to imagine Samast and my father-in-law under the same roof.
But again, I am thinking of Hrant.

Another old sin--Taner Akcam said in the Radikal this week that Dink's murder was the last move in the ethnic cleansing that started in 1913.

Here is the second part of my modest, abridged translation of the Hrant biography. It begins with a similar massacre to Dersim—which no one has said sorry for at all yet—and ends with tales of the childhood of the Dink brothers. I find it incredibly moving. Candar, from what I can tell, lets the voices of the old people in the family alone. They're disjointed, awkard, conflicting. There accounts in the beginning are the stories of the elderly family members—fragmented, assuming knowledge you don’t have, apologetic, and extremely natural. Only Hrant's voice (culled from his writings to help him pen his own posthumous account) are very poetic.

For anyone not versed in all things Turkey—the title ‘Efendi’ is one you would apply to a respected gentleman. Ç says ‘ch’. Ş says ‘sh’ and…well, that’s it for now.

No comments: