Young journalist Ayşenur Parıldak who has been convicted to over 7 years of imprisonment for working at critical newspaper Zaman said in a letter from her solitary confinement that she suffers a lot in her cell and grieves deeply for her situation.
After almost two years of imprisonment, Ayşenur’s ordeal is not getting any easier according to her colleague Sevinç Özarslan who published Ayşenur’s letters from prison with her permission on Kronos last week.
“I’m still scared of being forgotten here,” Ayşenur writes in a letter. After all, she was not released from prison despite the court order in her first hearing due to lack of any evidence of the absurd terror charges against her. Following the outcry in social media by pro-government accounts, the court ignored the decision to release her and she remained behind bars.
Ayşenur says that she suffers so much in her cell after seeing how some people are released in similar conditions. She underlines the lack of evidence regarding charges against her, except for a disposable internet line. She is scared of people thinking that she must have done something to deserve such a punishment as aiming to change people’s perception from her small cell. She also wishes to take a long sleep and not to wake up in a prison cell anymore.
“I’m dead tired,” Ayşenur tells her colleague Özarslan in a letter. “I hope God sees people like us and we are suffering for a reason” she adds. She is also scared of not being able to tolerate solitary confinement anymore. “Why me?” is another question she keeps asking since she gave up privileges of becoming a jurist and chose to be a reporter. Ayşenur was about to finish her law degree at the time of her arrest in the wake of July 15, 2016 military coup attempt which paved the way for a massive purge. She was simply arrested for being a reporter at Zaman.
Ayşenur also asks her colleague if people in and outside Turkey show any effort about people like her. “Are people doing anything for us?” she asks. Özarslan says she doesn’t know what to say. According to her, not a significant effort is being made for the release of journalists like Ayşenur except for a couple of campaigns by Amnesty International and German newspaper Die Welt.
Expectedly, Ayşenur is resentful at many people who do not write her in prison. She spends most of her time in her cell alone. She feels she is left to her own devices by those who are ‘free.’
Meanwhile, Ayşenur and her friends are trying to reach French journalist Elise Lucet who ‘adopted’ Ayşenur and wrote her as part of a campaign to support Turkish journalists. Ayşenur wants to write back Lucet and thank her, but does not have access to her. Özarslan says that anyone can help Ayşenur to reach Lucet by asking her to respond to Ayşenur.
Ayşenur Parıldak is one of the hundreds of jailed journalist in Turkey in the wake of July 15. She and her colleagues working at daily Zaman were primarily targeted as part of a brutal purge by Erdoğan government in Turkey.