21-year-old prisoner explained injustices in Turkey

A letter penned by a 21-year-old university student sentenced to 21 years for demanding free education exposed the injustices taking place in Turkey due to state of emergency declared after the 2016 coup attempt, T24 news site reported on Thursday.

University student Alişan Taburoğlu wrote his letter from prison to explain the problems he had witnessed during his trial. 

“I am a 21-year-old university student. I was detained, tortured, and arrested by court just because I wanted free education and justice, because I attended press statements organised as democratic activities since I am interested in my country’s problems. I have been in prison for almost two years,” Taburoğlu said. He added that he was sent from Silivri prison in İstanbul, to Burhaniye prison in the western province of Balıkesir in early 2017, which profoundly affected the outcome of his trial.

The state of emergency to be lifted on July 18 have allowed the courts to proceed trials without the presence of the defendants and to use the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS) to receive testimonies.

“When you attend your hearing via SEGBİS, your lawyer is not beside you physically. The lawyer and the defendant cannot communicate with each other without anyone seeing and listening. The defendant cannot face those testifying in court, cannot examine documents, photographs submitted,” Taburoğlu said. He added that those attending the hearings are unable to understand whether the defendant is under pressure in prison or not. 

Taburoğlu submitted a request to be brought to court in İstanbul during his hearings, but his request was rejected. As a result, the court made its ruling in the absence of both Taburoğlu and his lawyer. Taburoğlu also did not have a chance to testify. 

“Mine is only a single case. I know hundreds, even thousand of people experience the same injustices. But those problems would have to be solved if they are exposed and if our society learn about those injustices and criticise those practices,” Taburoğlu concluded.

Alişan Taburoğlu’s letter has been widely circulated in social media. Many compared his situation with pro-government mafia leader, Sedat Peker, who was acquitted on Friday of charges of threatening the Turkish academics that signed a petition calling on Turkey to deescalate the conflict with Kurdish armed groups in the country’s southeast in January 2016. Peker had responded to the petition by threatening to “let (the academics) blood in streams and watch (them) drown in it.”


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