Nurcan Baysal
Jul 30 2018

Are we all alone?

The phrase "no vote for you" ended with the death of members of the Şenyaşar family when a Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy candidate visited a shop in Suruç before the June 24th elections. A close relative of the AKP deputy candidate was killed in the clash. Three members of the Şenyaşar family ― a father and two siblings ― also died.

The father, Esvet Şenyaşar, was brutally killed at the hospital he had been taken to for treatment - beaten over the head repeatedly with a serum bottle. While one of the wounded brothers from the Şenyaşar family went to jail for killing a relative of the AKP deputy, no action was taken against those who killed three members of the Şenyaşar family. No-one was arrested.

The perpetrators are free. The autopsy report revealed that Adil Şenyaşar was hit by 17 bullets. Esvet Şenyaşar had 30 cut wounds. Celal Şenyaşar died from wounds inflicted by six different weapons at close range. The cameras in the hospital and workplace where the killings took place are missing and the footage has been erased. Meanwhile, the one "canvassing for votes" became a representative.

Since then, the remaining members of the Şenyaşar family have been subjected to serious threats. A few people I met in Suruç last month spoke about threatening messages family members had received on their phones. We later discovered the Şenyaşar family was forced to leave Suruç.

The mother, Emine Şenyaşar, justifiably asks the following, "Now, we are five families staying in one house like refugees. We migrated from our place and our homeland. The things in this house were brought to us by a neighbor. This is no way to live. I weep, but it does no good; I curse, but it does no good. I'm asking you to convey this call to the whole world. Now, where do I turn? Where should I go?"

How painful and powerless this is... There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are being persecuted, who got a raw deal, and who are waiting for justice. After the incident made headlines, there were hashtags on social media saying, "The Şenyaşar family is not alone." But we don't see any politicians or officials or even many people visiting the family or taking a stand next to them.

We all know that hashtags on social media are not enough; they are valuable and meaningful but not enough to stand up to the horrible power of the other side. The Şenyaşar family in Suruç is alone in the face of the threats they recieve.

Another lonely family disappeared this week, this time into the dark waters of the Marista, a river in Turkey's west that touches the Greek and Bulgarian border. This time it was the Akçabay family. They had such mistrust in Turkey's justice system, and had became so isolated in the country that they took the chance and got into a dinghy to escape to Greece. The boat capsized. The mother and three children - aged one, four, and six years-old - disappeared.

A few days ago, the bodies of the one-year-old and the mother Hatice were found embracing each other. The other two children have yet to be found. While Greece has been engaged in all types of search efforts, the incident didn't make headlines in Turkey. The Akçabay family was alone and the two missing children are alone in the waters of the Marista...

The prisons are full of "loners." A headlines in yesterday's Evrensel daily pointed to the situation of two journalists numbered among these loners, Ziya Ataman and Idris Yılmaz. Ataman suffered intestinal failure, and Yılmaz lost 33 kilos in six months whilst in solitary confinement. The headline asked if there was any news.

Of course not! Ataman and Yılmaz are part of the "loners" group. As a matter of fact, Ataman, who has been in prison for two years, was asked if he had been visited by a member of the Parliament in a survey from the P24 Association of Independent Journalists that was circulated to journalists in jail. He answered that no deputy had come to visit him.

Obviously, like many others, my expectations regarding politics and politicians are quite low. Despite everything, we are in the position of reclaiming politics and showing where it should be...on the other hand, what has been going on isn't a topic that can be left to politicians. The Şenyaşar family is all alone. Where are we? Why are we not forming a human wall in front of the Şenyaşar family in Suruç?

Are not we able to send Ataman and Yılmaz a card to alleviate their loneliness to some extent? How can we not send our condolences to the Akçabay family, whose tragedy has been met with thousands of expletives written under news of their fate? Is it only the duty of politicians to stand up to such injustices?

Kemal Can wrote an excellent article last week in the daily Cumhuriyet and asked, "Are you that tired?"

Allow me to carry on these questions here. Are you as tired as Emine Çağırga, who lost her child and had to store her body on ice for days, or are you as tired as the displaced people from Şırnak, who have had to live in tents for two years? Or as tired as the Kurdish mothers who have had to stay up all night in front of the morgue for even longer to retrieve the body parts of their children? Are we as tired as the women of Soma, or as tired as those who have lost their babies in the Maritsa’s murky waters?

Are you as tired as the mothers of Ali Ismail, Abdocan, or Berkin - all children who lost their lives in the Gezi Protests? Or as tired as those who have had to leave their children, loved ones and homes to go to another country? Or are you as tired as those who haven't given up hope or those who are withering away in prison, in an unfair and unlawful place?

Yes, it's true that we are tired - we are tired of waking up to the same cruelty and of going to bed in the same state of mind.

So what shall we do? Should we cower in the corner and turn a deaf ear, a blind eye and remain silent at times like these, wondering what harm might come to us and our loved ones? Will this save us?

I don't know - sometimes I even question why I write. A loneliness has descended on me as well. We always use "not alone" hashtags. I think we're all very much alone.