I am a 27-year-old woman who lives in a small village in Turkey, travels to her village in the summer to take care of the farm.
On the evening of January 2nd, 2017, around the call to prayer my doorbell rang. The neighborhood representative and four police officers entered by house without taking into consideration my dress. They entered to search my house for the apparent reason: being a member of an armed terrorist organization. My house was searched and they found nothing. “Get ready, we are leaving” they told me. I spent seven days in custody. Although I truthfully answered all questions in court, I was arrested – I was to spend the time in the … jail. I was innocent, why was I going there? I got really scared when they took me there. I wondered who I would encounter. I was the twenty first person to enter the ward I was to spend my time in. Never in my life I was I welcomed so warmly – they shared everything with me and took care of me. But I kept asking the same question, why am I here? Then I stopped thinking about myself and started asking why these nice people were here. They were arrested under the mission named ‘Safak’ and were spending their third month in the ward. After spending 20 days in custody, they were placed here. There were five breastfeeding women with 6, 7, 12, 14 and 15-month-old babies; who were left at home.
The Qur’an mentions in Surah Al-Baqarah that women who wish to breastfeed their babies can do so until they are 2 years old – but nevertheless they were separated from their babies. They were forced to store their milk which after a while stopped running. Most of their husbands were detained as well; their children left in the care of grandparents and siblings. Those without family had to utilize foster care.
Another woman arrived from Soma two days after I did – with her baby. Her husband had been detained. And then a 58-year-old woman who was also accused of being a part of an armed terrorist organization (!); and then a woman with her daughter in her twenties (who was busy writing her thesis dissertation before the arrest); then two more women from the city … 27 people and a baby in an area no bigger than 100 square meters (30 for beds, 30 for the bathroom and kitchen, 40 for a garden). I cannot even start explaining the conditions, you must see for yourself.
Here we were, 27-28 people living in an 8-person ward. There were beds everywhere, it was hard to breathe and the baby’s was not managing well but the judge still kept us all in.
In a ward next to ours there was a woman with her 5-month-old and another one who had to leave her 25 day old baby. Never in Islamic history were women, children, and elderly treated in such a way. Non-Muslims were not excluded from that group. Everybody cries here, either under a blanket or a prayer mat, quietly, gravely.
People were praying in faith and in trust to God. It is said in the Masnawi that being patient and quiet will bring God’s mercy and grace. These people here have made it their motto, but don’t you say “we did not know, did not see or hear.” There are nurses, teachers, academicians, principles, innocent people from all over that are being held. Mothers separated from their children; mothers with children with Down syndrome, with 9-month-old babies.
Mawlana said “What if God loves the heart that you just broke? You would not know, for if you knew, you would not even come close to that.” Maybe it is really like that. So don’t be silent about it!
Everyday here the Qur’an is being read from beginning to end. These people are being accused of being in an armed terrorist organization. Do you think so?
I let out all of this inside of me, I could not stay quiet!