Walking towards freedom
By Nazli Bozdemir
On the 15th of July in 2016, there had been a coup attempt against Turkish government by a group of soldiers. The governing party and President Erdogan took the advantage of this failed coup and started a campaign against the people they saw as a threat. They declared thousands of people “terrorists” by violating the right to be innocent until proven guilty. Today, thousands of women are being held under persecution in the prisons of Turkey. The number of babies with their mothers in the prisons is 780. A great number of people were known to cross the borders by walking and boats over Evros River to escape the oppression in Turkey after the coup attempt.
In this article, I would like to talk about a march organized by the Million Women Rise Movement for International Women’s Day on March 7, 2020, and what this march adds to and makes us feel. In this march organized for 14th time by thousands of women who belong to different languages, religions and races so that they could be the voice of all women in their own countries and in the world, we all tried to be the voice of each woman and her screams and to be one with thousands. It is really hard to describe that atmosphere.
However, we found this organization as an enormous opportunity to announce the world our wounded hearts. We tried to give voice to our sisters in Turkey by the help of the prison simulation, drawings and banners which were all prepared by the great effort of volunteer members of Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) in order to present the data of injustice thousands of innocent women under persecution in the prisons of Turkey were subjected to.
A young member of HRS got on the stage to shout all injustices and persecutions in my country to the thousands. While she was speaking, the thousands kept quiet and watched on the giant screen the heart-breaking tragedy our loved ones went through. I felt as if time stopped, I felt how tired and desperate all of us were, on the other hand how determined and persevering besides being full of gratitude for where we stand.
There was a huge group of energetic and enthusiastic people who share the same ideals with us such as democracy, equality, freedom of thought, right to live free from violence, mutual respect for and tolerance. Again and again I felt with my all cells that there should be many bridges to be built between us and these kind-hearted people and there are so many issues and truths to be announced to the world.
During the march, I shouted inside the prison simulation with a doll in my arms till I got hoarse from shouting. I felt deeply weak and helpless as I thought of the women, men and children who lost their lives in the waters of Evros River on their way to freedom or who had spent years in the prison undeservedly, 474 women who died due to the violence of their husbands in my country and the millions of women in all of the world who suffered either this or that way. Just at that moment a British woman, as if she felt I was lost in that cell, reached forth, held my hand and said that “Don’t worry, we are all with you”. While I was shouting “Set them free!” with my all friends, she must have felt my unutterable sorrow in my tears and in my voice for the ones who died in Evros, for the babies and children who lost their childhood years, for the people tortured in the prisons.
What brings us all together? What is the keyword which unites us despite the differences in language, religion and race? Despite the people of my country who are blind and deaf to persecution and injustice right under their nose, there is hope on the other hand saying “Don’t worry, we are all with you”. This is the bridge which is being built for the sake of human rights notwithstanding any differences.
I would like to underline that there are many organizations that carry on similar projects and share the same ideals. We should raise more and more awareness of these. I hope that in this way we can make our voice heard by new and larger masses of people. On behalf Women Committee, I appreciate and express my sincere thanks to all activists and volunteer members of HRS and Million Women Rise Movement who took part and worked hard in a great numbers of organizations which raise hand against every kind of violation of human rights.