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INTERVIEW Wife urges supporters to write to jailed German-Turkish journalist By Can Merey and Linda Say, dpa

Europe
12.07.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel got married in a prison near Istanbul in April. After four months in isolation his new wife is allowed to visit him once a week. She calls on supporters of the correspondent for a major German daily to write to him.

Istanbul (dpa) - Deniz Yucel has been in jail and under investigation since February, without any charges being laid. In April, the German-born journalist, who writes for the German national daily Die Welt, married his TV producer partner in Silivri prison to the west of Istanbul.

In a dpa interview a year after the attempted coup in Turkey that has led to dozens of journalists being jailed, Dilek Mayaturk-Yucel, 30, relates how her 43-year-old husband is getting along.

dpa: You visit Deniz Yucel in prison once a week. Is there anything new to report?

Mayaturk-Yucel: Yes, Deniz is now receiving my letters. Thus far I have received just one letter from him, the one he wrote on his 100th day in prison. My request: please write to Deniz! There is a commission in the prison that reads letters before passing them on, so please try to write in Turkish as far as possible. As this commission does not know other languages, this is a reason for not passing the letters on to Deniz.

The letters need not be long. Use a dictionary, or use Google. Poor Turkish and grammatical errors are unimportant to people in isolation. On the contrary, they will bring a smile to Deniz‘ face.

dpa: You refer to his being held in isolation. How is he doing?

Mayaturk-Yucel: I believe that Deniz is physically and psychologically in very good condition. He is someone with a lot of energy and always looks on life with a smile. Of course that does not mean that he is satisfied with the current situation. We are talking about a person who has been in complete isolation for four months. He is alone when he exercises, and alone in his cell. He is not permitted contact with others. He is also not allowed to meet other prisoners, and even at the open visit, I‘m expected to sit opposite him, not next to him.

It should not be forgotten that isolation is a violation of human rights. The consequences can be seen over the longer term. It becomes more difficult to concentrate and one can have difficulty in speaking.

dpa: You married in prison and have not been able to be with your husband in freedom, let alone enjoy a honeymoon. How difficult is the situation for you?

Mayaturk-Yucel: They have locked up the person most important to me alone behind stone walls. I think you can imagine how I feel. I‘m trying to get through this time with as little harm as possible. Deniz will not be with me on my birthday. I‘m sad that we are unable to live together in peace and mutual understanding in a magnificent part of the world.

There will be years in freedom for us, but that does not change the  fact that four months have now been stolen from us. And it does not change the fact that I gave up my job and flat in Munich in haste in order to return to Istanbul.

But it is egotistical to talk only about journalists when in fact thousands of others who are also innocent are in prison. I‘m sorry for the brother of the man I spoke to while travelling to Silivri whose brother is in prison just for a tweet.

dpa: How important for Deniz Yucel and you are the expressions of solidarity in Germany?

Mayaturk-Yucel: I believe anyone in prison fears being forgotten. The knowledge that they are not alone lends them strength. This is even more important for Deniz, as he is in isolation.

dpa: Are you receiving support in Turkey?

Mayaturk-Yucel: There is some, but not as well organized as in Germany. That is not surprising, as Deniz‘ real environment is Germany. But the main reason is that everyone here is caught up with their own problems. The list of those whose rights have been taken away is long. I‘m in contact with journalist friends and the wives of other jailed journalists. It is quieter than in Germany, but there is a great deal of empathy and solidarity between us.

dpa: Is there hostility towards Deniz and you in Turkey or in Germany?

Mayaturk-Yucel: I wouldn‘t call it hostility. I would rather say there are people who get along by running others down. Perhaps they have never had the benefit of loving and being loved, of security. It may appear strange, but I talk to these people too. But not in front of thousands of others by exposing them in the social media. I talk to them. I‘ve promised myself that, irrespective of what happens, I will never be someone who nurtures hatred.

dpa: Is the German government doing enough in your view to have Deniz Yucel freed?

Mayaturk-Yucel: To answer that, I would have to know precisely what is being done.

dpa: What are your plans when Deniz Yucel is freed?

Mayaturk-Yucel: First to go to the sea, to spend time in nature and at the sea. We have  compiled a list of archaeological sites in Turkey that we would like to visit. Some people see Deniz as an enemy of Turkey, as someone who does not love Turkey. This is intended as an answer to them - that we have a plan to visit and view all the beautiful spots on this part of the earth.

 

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