I ran away from lawlessness, human rights violations and torture in Turkey, not from justice…
As a principal of a Gulenist school, I was having a meeting with our teachers in August, 2016. Then the school security called me and told me that dozens of police raided our school and I need to go outside. I immediately finished the meeting and went outside but I could not believe my eyes to see dozens of police entering the school. The students and teachers who were in school were asked to empty the school buildings and gather on the assembly ground. Our school was shut down with a presidential decree.
Outside the school building, we waited for a while the school was being searched from A to Z with some of the parents who heard about the incident. Our students came and asked some questions in tears, “Why are we out of the classes, are they going to close our school?” but we could not reply to any of these questions. After the search was over, our school was shut down because of its affiliation with the Gülen Movement. All of our staff were searched before we left the school which we entered freely in the morning.
Our personal computers and tablets were seized and the school was locked up and sealed. We appealed to the government authorities for the reopening of our school. As soon as we could, we tried to explain the injustice we were exposed to. By believing that the justice system functioning fairly, we tried to correct the misimplementation. However, we realized that the there was no rule of law for us. According to them, we were “coup plotters, terrorists, murderers and traitors”.
In October, 2016, the police raided my house and informed me that they had a search warrant for my house and detention warrant for me. My house was searched and they didn’t leave any place untouched. My wife and children got so scared and shocked, although I tried to calm them down. After the search was over, the police took me to the police headquarters and detained for six days in a two-person cell with 9 people. I thought I would die due to lack of oxygen, water or toilet which we were not even allowed to use. “We give permission for toilet whenever we want, not at any time you want” the police said.
Being insulted by the police, to be forced to stand all the time, not to be allowed to sleep were the kinds of torture we faced. Three days later I was accused of being a member of an armed terrorist organisation due to reasons such as being a manager of a Gulenist school, using ByLock messaging application and having a bank account at Bank Asya.
The police officers threatened me during the interrogation and said that only if I confess and give some names, I would be able to see my family again. Otherwise, something terrible would happen to me and my family. At the end of six days, I was taken to the court and the same accusations were directed by the court. Then, I got arrest with a pending trial and taken to a high security prison. At the entrance of the prison, we were handed over to the gendarmerie, and we waited at attention position for a couple of hours at the courtyard.
After we were subjected to a dog-searching, the gendarmerie handed us over to the guardians. Then we were subjected to verbal and physical assaults and insulted such as “the coop plotters honored us here, all of them must be executed, these are murderers, do not treat them as human beings”. Later I was exposed to strip search which was so humiliating. Nothing else other than the strip search could degrades human dignity.
Finally, we were taken to wards that have the capacity for 10 inmates, however, 28 of us shared the same ward. 10 people were sleeping in the bunks, 18 others were lying on the ground. There was no hot water, the water was constantly cut off and we were insulted and threatened for our humanitarian needs. We were deprived of our main rights. After we had finished four months in this way, we were taken to the court and defended ourselves.
I was sentenced to seven years and six months of imprisonment for being member of an armed terrorist organisation with the charges of being a school principal, having an account at Bank Asya, using ByLock mobile phone application. The sentence was reduced to six years and three months due to good conduct abatement. Until it was approved by the supreme court, I was released by the court with a pending trial.
After my release from the prison, being labelled as a terrorist and glances with full of hatred towards me by my friends and neighbors made me very upset. My children were also exposed to the same pressure in their schools. My teaching license was revoked by the government. Before my conviction was confirmed by the upper court, I decided to flee the country not to enter the prison again and not to be subjected to the same torture .
And I came to Sweden in March, 2017 with my family. I applied for asylum here. Soon after we came to Sweden, the supreme court in Turkey approved my conviction. However, in December 2017, I was informed that my asylum application was rejected. I received a decision of rejection despite the fact that I presented all the information and the verdict of 6 years and 3 months imprisonment to the authorities in Sweden. I have not escaped from the law in my country, I have escaped from unlawfulness and human rights violations. I have explained and provided the documents of all the illegalities and violations of human rights that I passed through. If I return to Turkey, I will be imprisoned and subjected to torture. My family will be persecuted as well.