A total of 51 people are being kept in a cell in Diyarbakir prison that is meant for only 12 people, Ayşe Çelik, a Kurdish teacher who was released from prison yesterday, has revealed.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the imprisonment of Kurdish teacher Ayşe Çelik, who during a TV program in 2016 called for an end to clashes between Kurdish militants and Turkish security forces in Diyarbakır and asked authorities to not let children die, was a violation of freedom of expression.
Çelik was then released from prison where she stayed 22 days instead of serving 15 months in accordance with earlier conviction.
Reflecting on her brief detention time in an interview with Arti Gercek, Celik lamented overcrowded prison cells and said: “There were 43 adults and 8 children, 6 of whom were aged between 0 to 1, in the prison cell that I stayed. It torn my heart out. I grieved it so much that I forgot that I have a daughter as well. No child should be in prison. How on earth you put 51 people in a 12-people cell? Every bunk bed would be used by 2 people. The rest including children would lie on the ground. We had to sleep next to unhygienic washroom and bath. It was so crowded that we had to step on fellow inmates’s bodies trying to get to the washroom. I would not go to the washroom at nights in particular just to avoid harming any children staying on the floor.
An investigation was launched into Çelik after she called in to the popular “Beyaz Show“ on Jan. 8, 2016 and urged authorities to take action to prevent the killing of children in clashes between Turkish security forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
During the TV program, Çelik said: “Are you aware of what’s going on in the country’s east? What’s happening here is misrepresented on television. Don’t stay silent! Please show more sensitivity as human beings! See us, hear us and give us a hand! I’d like to address the teachers who have abandoned their students. How are they going to return there? How are they going to look those innocent children in the eye? What a pity! Don’t let people die. Don’t let children die. Don’t let mothers cry.”
The host of the program, Beyazıt Öztürk, had the audience applaud her by saying: “We are trying our best to make it heard. Your words have been a lesson for us. We will continue to do more. Hopefully your wishes for peace will be realized as soon as possible.”
Following the show, the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Çelik for “praising terrorism and a terrorist organization,” and the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated a separate investigation into Öztürk and Çelik on similar charges.