HOLY TERROR "I read the news today oh boy About a lucky man who made the grade" A Day in the Life, The Beatles, 1967
I read the news today, oh boy. There are thousands of kids, 12-18 years old, in jail in Turkey. They have thrown stones. They have thrown eggs. They have thrown words. They hate their poverty. They despise their incompetent education. They loathe their miserable lives, their oppressive government, their oppressive families, their oppressive youth, themselves. They are terrorists. And they have fully earned their jailing. At all costs, “civilized” society must be protected. Look at it, this civilized society. The way it drives its automobiles. The way its politicians conduct their public discourses. The way fathers and sons murder their daughters and sisters to preserve family honor. The way it steals. The way it visits violence upon its women. Look at it!
In one jail, Pozantı Prison in Adana, two hundred children (or would “little criminals” be more appropriate?) are regularly and systematically rehabilitated through torture and rape. More specifically, the forceful application of their heads against hard substances like elevator doors and walls. They are taught proper hygiene by being stripped naked. The ensuing forceful application of freezing cold water is judged by prison management to be invigoratingly therapeutic. And who could ever question the lusty and manly application of canes against the bare soles of the feet? The bastinado leaves no visible marks, is easy to administer, and is guaranteed to cause exquisite pain with time-proven results. And we must never forget the rapes. Their jailers didn't. And all of this at tax payer expense. What a country. Oh boy.
Something should be done. I mean, while poverty, ignorance, oppression, and the throwing of stones and eggs isn’t nice, it doesn’t deserve being jailed, beaten and raped. Or does it? After all this is Turkey.
Sadullah Ergin, Minister of Justice
Actually this story is not exactly news. The kids have been writing letters of complaint to the authorities for a year. I imagine that they were puzzled by the nature of their rehabilitation therapy. They asked to be transferred to a new prison under new management. But obviously the gears of the Minister of Justice, Sadullah Ergin, turn slowly, if at all. Poor, busy man, he must deal with such legal tragicomedies as Ergenekon, Birdcage, Deniz Feneri, and the crafting of a new, more "democratic" Turkish constitution. So no wonder it took him awhile to promote, reward and then transfer the managers of the Pozantı Prison. But now the justice minister knows that the real story is out. And now the justice minister has to do something. And act he did. He transfered the boys to Sincan Prison at Ankara. No doubt the boys will be going to a far, far, better place. It would be pretty to think so. It would also be pretty stupid to think so.
For the applauded warden from Pozantı Prison has also been transferred. In a stroke of complete ignorance this beast is now the warden at Sincan! Torture and rape are good for the career in Turkey. And what a perfect choice of a new warden to fix the system. The perfect felon to remediate and rehabilitate these troubled and emotionally destroyed boys. Wouldn’t you agree? Such are the workings of the so-called "religious" ruling party in Turkey. Isn’t moderate political Islam wonderful? But the saddest part of this story is that it was a tale told years ago, twenty-nine, to be precise. Stale news, indeed.
I saw a film made twenty-nine years ago, oh boy. By Yilmaz Güney, oh boy. He was supposed to have been a communist, oh boy. Have you seen the film? Lately? Ever? For the sake of the recently raped children you should do so. For me, it’s the saddest film. It was the last one Güney made. He shot it in France in 1983, the year before he died. It won an award at Cannes. The French government cooperated with him. Treacherous France, oh boy. The movie was banned in Turkey, nothing new here. The title of the film is the same as the item that the guards at Pozantı used as therapeutic devices on the heads of the boys—the wall (duvar). Write that in bold capital letters, DUVAR.
The film DUVAR depicts the brutal aftermath of the 1980 fascist, US-supported military coup in Turkey through the experiences of children in a hell-hole of a prison near Ankara. For these abused kids, trapped in a violent penal system, happiness is being transferred to another prison, a kinder, gentler prison. So go the rumors. The kids plead and plead, write letters, all to no avail. But after experiencing horrendous violence and a fire, they are finally transferred. And at the new prison, what happens? Their old warden has been reassigned. They are reunited. Sound weirdly familiar? Twenty-nine years and not one thing has changed! See DUVAR. See DUVAR and you will see Turkey today, oh boy. Oh god.