Letter from imprisoned journalist Meşale Tolu
Meşale Tolu, journalist and translator for ETHA, sent a letter from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in Istanbul where she is held since her arrest one month ago, together with her 2-year-old baby.
Meşale Tolu, journalist and translator for ETHA, sent a letter from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in Istanbul where she is held since her arrest one month ago.
Tolu, expressing what she lived while being taken into custody, writes: “I was treated as a ‘German agent’, just like Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent for the newspaper Die Welt. It was claimed that I work for the German state and that I was in Turkey for Germany's interests. I know that the reasons why I have been chosen as a target are not those unfounded claims. The main reason is the fact that I work for a socialist press that defends the people’s right to have access to information, against the censorship policy of the state.”
The letter written by Meşale Tolu, calling for solidarity and sensitivity is as follows:
Hello from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison,
My name is Meşale Tolu Çorlu. You might have heard of me under the expression ‘the German agent’, just like Deniz Yücel. I was born in Germany and I was educated to become a teacher. I was working as a voluntary reporter and translator for the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), claiming to be part of the free press tradition in Turkey, until the 30th of April, when I was arrested during the night.
On the eve of the 1st of May, day of the unity, solidarity and struggle of the working class, an unexpected attack was carried out in my house, in the name of a ‘preventive’ detention. My husband experienced a similar situation when he was arrested some days before the April 16 referendum. Three weeks after his arrest, the same prosecutor ordered my arrest. Even though they knew I was alone at home with my child of 2 years old, they entered the house in a violent manner. The special operations forces laid me down as soon as they entered. My son was crying in his room, woken up by the noise. Preventing me from standing up to calm him down, a special operations policeman entered his room with a long-barrelled gun. They made my son live these moments despite my repeating that there was a little child in the house.
In a little while, my house was upside-down. I still have not understood why they entered so violently in a house where a woman lives with her child, and what they intended to find there.
Just like Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent for the newspaper Die Welt, I was treated as a ‘German agent’. It was claimed that I worked for the German state and that I was in Turkey for Germany's interests. I know that the reasons why I have been chosen as a target are not those unfounded claims. The main reason is the fact that I work for a socialist press that defends the people’s right to have access to information, against the censorship of the state. The government, which did not reach its aim by closing down opponent newspapers, televisions and radios, continues its attacks by imprisoning journalists, writers and cartoonists. In the scope of these attacks, I was arrested on the 6th of May, after 6 days of custody.
They are wrong to believe that they will silence us by imprisoning our bodies. We, journalists, will not remain silent, just as Dicle News Agency (DIHA), or Cumhuriyet, Özgür Gündem, Birgün and Evrensel newspapers did not, despite the pressure. Although the pro-government media ignores the imprisoned journalists, the press defending the people’s right to receive information will continue to be the voice of each other. This has been a real hope since I was taken into custody and arrested.
I am one of the 159 journalists who are held captive in Turkey. I am now in prison with my son of 2 years old due to unfounded claims and unreal accusations. When my son will be able to understand this situation, I will tell him that we had been deprived of our freedom for having defended it.
You can imagine that, in prison, the struggle to break censorship gains even more importance. From this perspective, I believe that you will show sensitivity to my situation and put it on the agenda.
With hope and resistance…
Meşale Tolu Çorlu
Bakırköy Women’s Prison, İstanbul