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My Mom’s Heart is Too Weak For Prison

My Mom’s Heart is Too Weak For Prison

I grew up as a kid who was always supported and encouraged by my family. My mom was a brave, loving woman despite her heart disease and all the challenges of life. She owned a kindergarten and was also working there as a teacher. She was never out of time or energy to play with me and my brother although she spent all her days taking care of children. My little brother was born with a bone tumor, so her sensitive heart was also burdened by the ailment of her younger son. Although my family was already suffering the financial cost of these health issues, they still decided to send me to the United States so that I could get a better education. “Go and make us proud” they said.

Our hearts were always connected although we were physically apart; we talked on the phone via FaceTime everyday. My mom was not able to travel due to her health issue, but despite that they had bought tickets to fly here for a surprise visit. My 4-year old brother was crazy about taking a flight for the first time, and I was happily making preparations for them in my little apartment. Yet, all my dreams were shattered on the day they went to the airport to board the plane. When I heard that they were taken into custody at the airport, I thought “there must be a mistake; I hope they don’t miss the flight.” But it turned out to be a very serious situation as I learned that even my 4-year-old brother was questioned by the police in a room separate from my parents. My mom and dad were both arrested, their passports were taken, and my little brother was going to be taken as orphanage as he was left with nobody to take care of him. All this felt totally unreal to me, like a bad joke, as I had to live through this nightmare miles away from them.

I learned that my grandparents rushed to the police station and tried to console my little brother who was shaking with fear. My mom was thrown into a cell–without being able to take her medication. My little brother would be in a state orphanage now if my grandma had not grabbed him firmly and insisted on not letting him go. It was unbelievable for me to hear these things when I was just dreaming of the days we would spend together in the United States. My family was all of a sudden split up by a senseless accusation of terrorism. Their only “crime” was to have downloaded a publicly available mobile chat app -now infamously known as Bylock. They were accused of betraying the nation and put in a prison cell reserved for the most serious crimes in Turkey.  The judge asked them why they were going to the US, what their son is doing in the US, as if it were a sign of being a US spy. He eventually decided to imprison them despite having no evidence.

Imprisoned… My parents… My mom who was a kindergarten teacher, and my dad who provided scholarships for students by collecting donations as a local NGO director… Now they were being treated worse than murderers and drug dealers. Not just them, but thousands of innocent doctors, police officers, teachers, and their kids and babies have been labeled as terrorists in Turkey. Is it possible for a country to totally lose its conscience?!

I am not allowed to talk with my parents on the phone because I am in the US. All I can do is to hear about their situation from my grandparents and pray for my family. Although they tried to hide it from me, I found out my mom had a heart attack in prison. They said that the prison guards woke everyone up in the ward in the middle of the night by hitting on the prison bars with their batons and shouting insults at the inmates -which was too much for my mom’s ailing heart.

She has been kept in prison despite her health problems, and she suffered two heart attacks already during her pre-trial detention. It is as if the prison officials are deliberately being harsh, rude, and abusive to the inmates who were arrested following the post-July 15 purge. I think they believe their mistreatment of the prisoners will be rewarded rather than punished. When my maternal grandmother went to the prison to see my mom, she saw that my mom was barely able to walk… According to what she told her, the prison officials give their meals in the pots and pans, without any plates or utensils to eat with. The water is cut off frequently so they can’t wash themselves. All signs point to a deliberate attempt to dehumanize the decent, well-educated citizens who were imprisoned unjustly; and I don’t know what else to do other than telling others about the plight of all these innocent people and their children.

Just recently I heard that a pregnant woman died in prison after telling the officials that she did not feel her baby alive in her womb… I don’t know if I will hear similar bad news from my mom, who has to stay in prison with chronic heart disease. The officials are unchecked, and unhinged in their violation of basic human rights. But I believe that there will be a day when everybody involved in this crime against humanity will face their day in court and get their due punishment. And those who silently witness these crimes will be held responsible on Judgment Day.



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