'My only crime is being a Peace Mother'

The arrested Kurdish journalist Remziye Temel wrote a letter to Bianet about her wardmate Şefika Kandar, a Peace Mother convicted of "terrorism."

Remziye Temel, one of the 16 Kurdish journalists who were arrested in late June, wrote a letter to Bianet about Şefika Kandar, a "Peace Mother" with whom she stays in the same ward at the Diyarbakır Women's Closed Prison.

The Peace Mothers are a group advocating a peaceful solution to Turkey's Kurdish question. Kandar has been behind bars for six years for "being a member of a terrorist organization."

"She gives strength to us"

"I wanted to write the short and difficult six-year story of a mother in the Diyarbakır Women's Closed Prison. The name of the mother is Şefika Kandar (63), who has three children. Şefika is illiterate.

"Mother Şefika says:

"I was detained at my house in Urfa in 2016. I didn't know the reason for the detention. I was detained for days. After 22 days, I was brought to court and arrested for 'being a member of a terrorist organisation' and sent to Urfa Hilvan Type T Prison. Prison is difficult for a mother and older people like me. I was in prison for a year. After one year, I was released on conditions of trial without arrest. I was out for four years. There was a second trial. The second court gave me a sentence of 7 years and 6 months. My sentence was immediately upheld. I decided to go abroad due to my age.

"My son and I were caught when I tried to cross the Greek border in June 2021. Greek soldiers detained us with inhumane treatment. They took away whatever we had: money, purse, jewelry... They took off our clothes. It was really difficult for me as a mother to strip in front of my son.

"My son and I were sent to Turkey. I had been held for 44 days in Edirne Prison. I had stayed with the FETÖ prisoners 44 days. I was transferred to the Gebze Type-M Prison. When I was brought to Gebze, I had been held in a single-person cell for 22 days on the grounds of quarantine. Because of the prison conditions, I was depressed and I still use medicine for that.

"My only crime is to be a 'Mother of Peace' and want peace. Thousands of people, like me, are imprisoned in unjust and unlawful ways. I have been held for two years and a month and I have three more years left."

"Mother Şefika is someone I get strength from," wrote Temel. "Mother Şefika is like our mother and she takes care of us. Mother Şefika is very strong and is a fighter. Mother Şefika got through difficult days but she lost nothing of her smiling face because she is a Mother of Peace and she said that she will always defend peace."