I read out loud to accompany myself: imprisoned Kurdish politician Kisanak

Gultan Kisanak, Co-mayor of Diyarbakir Municipality

Imprisoned former co-mayor of Diyarbakir Munipality, Gultan Kısanak, has given an interview to Ayse Yildirim from Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.

Kisanak was arrested on 31 October 2016 in Diyarbakir and sent to Kocaeli’s F Type maximum security prison in the Turkey’s west. In the interview, Kisanak gives details about her imprisonment. The co-mayor says that she has been completely isolated and has been kept alone in a room since her arrest. “The biggest problem is desolateness,” she says to Yildirim. “I sometimes read out loud just to accompany myself,” she added.

Highlights from Kisanak’s interview are below:

“I have been kept in isolation since my arrest. I even go to the airing space on my own. According to regulations, prisoners who are sentenced to penal servitude for life are able to go to the airing space with other prisoners. This isolation is an extraordinary practice.

“I have diabetes and high blood pressure but I am able to use my medication. I am trying to deal with health problems without seeing a doctor.

“The prosecutor has requested a 240 year jail sentence for me. The accusations are mainly rooted in my public speeches and press conferences when I was a deputy. At the trial, my speeches were shown as private statements, which the intelligence service supposedly attained by audio surveillance. I was speaking to the public, using my freedom of speech.

“My experiences from the 12 September 1980 coup encouraged me to become a journalist.I became a journalist to portray the truth, to criticise the wrong, to contribute to democracy. Now, the current situation in Turkey shows the importance of ‘free and independent journalism,’ as many journalists are being silenced or imprisoned.

“I would like to share my feeling of solidarity with all imprisoned journalists. Also, I would like to thank all the women who have supported me with their letters. I send my regards to all women. Co-leadership is an achievement which was gained by the women’s struggle. Now, it is time to raise hope.”

Kisanak was dismissed from her position as Co-mayor of Diyarbakir municipality and replaced by a state appointed trustee before her arrest.

The veteran Kurdish politician emphasised that Turkish authorities had imprisoned her to to tell the Kurds ​​​​​​​that “peace talks” had ended.