There wasn’t any calendar to show the time, date, day in Diyarbekir dungeon’s cell.
They call it the 35th ward here.
Here is a four story building. There are ten cells in every story.
All the cells are full. Some have one prisoner, some have five prisoners.
The people in those cells were the heads of some previous rebellions.
They were isolated, they became psychologically beaten and because of that they were taken prisoner.
But at the same time they were seeking a new rebellion.
In the 7th cell on the fourth floor, there was a pioneer rebel named Mazlum Dogan.
He is around 26-27 years old. Middle height, brown skinned and mature, likable.
He devoted himself to the liberation of his people who are under tyranny. He was the pioneer of the resistance outside and at the same time he controlled the resistance inside, but he was defeated in this unequal war.
Now he goes on with his life alone in isolation because of his defeat.
Like everybody else he had a broken mattress and blanket from the military.
In his cell where he lived alone he was thinking of the reasons for this defeat and the way to begin a new rebellion to overcome the loss.
He went through history and philosophy. He told his story to science and to knowledge.
On the night of March 21, he thought of Demirci Kawa with the fire of Newroz in his hand.
The cruelty of the dungeon resembled
The cruelty of Dehak the King of the Asur,
And without wasting any time he decided to rebel that night.
In his dark cell, he paces up and down…..turns all around.
He had listened to the silence in his cell.
To break the silence he talked to himself in a whisper that only he can hear.
“What is this silence?
Why is this silence?
Why all these cells, this prison is as quiet as a cemetery.
Why doesn’t this tornado of tyranny end?
Then he sat on his stone bed.
He put his head in his two arms and thought for a long time.
He stood up in his tiny cell and begun stepping and murmuring:
“Is it only me who is awake this night?”
“Is it only me who is oppressed by this tyranny?”
He came to the bars
He put his hand into his pocket.
Got out a match.
He lit one of them.
And he said: “This is for independence”
He lit the second one
And said: “This is for freedom”
He lit the third one
And said: “This is for democracy”
He threw all three matches through the bars
His friends saw the light of the matches he’d thrown but couldn’t understand the meaning.
When the fire of the matches burned out, he went back to talking to himself from where he left off.
“Esat gives us only two ways:
Either puke our thoughts or die in pain!!!
We have got two ways, too:
Either we sacrifice our bodies to our thoughts or
Our thoughts to our bodies…!”
He sat again on his bed and lit another match.
He looked at the fire for a while….And continued to speak:
Tonight is the 21 of March.
Tonight is the night Steel Kawa burned the palace of Dehak, tonight….!”
When the fire went away he stood up.
Began wandering in the cell.
“I always waited for this night.
My friend and my people are in the dark too, like me.
We need a fire which will pierce the darkness, illuminate our way, warm our bodies and burn the people who did this to us” he murmured in fury.
He got out another match.
He lights that match and holds it against his face and continues to talk as if talking to the fire:
I swear that
In the middle of this dark I will be that fire. I will be a torch for any people under tyranny. And maybe someday I will pass hand to hand.
Wherever there is a tyrant.
Wherever there is tyranny.
Wherever there is darkness.
I will be burning there.”
He took the paper and the pen:
And wrote whatever needed to be written.
He left it on his bed.
He got his tie and went to the bathroom……
The soldiers who came for morning check found Mazlum Dogan hanging in his cell…
“Making three matches four a voice was saying
Four matches for five
And dreaming of death as of the fire of rebellion
There was just one ward among all the other wards
The ones who made three matches four were in there
They were four stars among all the other stars”
It’s ten o’clock at night
It was forbidden not to be asleep at this time
But four people have set the “night of fours” this way
One’s name was Ferhat Kurtay
He was an electrical engineer
of medium height , a blue-eyed and merry-faced person
That night he had a white without collar, and black pants.
His face was smiling as always and his eyes were shinning.
The second one’s name was Necmi Onder
This young man was from Cermik
He was tall ,
Taller than Ferhat
Third was called Mahmut
He was registered as Mahmut Zengin in Siverek
We called the fourth as Esref
Anyik was added to his name while registered in Viransehir
He had a poor family even though he was rich-hearted.
Mahmut and Esref learned the mystery of the revolution from Ferhat
And Ferhat had read the story of the fire set by Mazlum from the book “the Resistance of the Oppressed Ones”
These four friends have talked about everything.
That night, they were going to have a feast. They were going to give everything in the wards to the prisoners.
As everybody sat on the floor cross-legged , the meal was made ready
Poems were read and the dinner was eaten.
Passengers of fire, the four revolutionaries gave their best-loved belongings to their friends as gifts.
And told them their last words about what they should do if they were killed if they were to die .
They were very careful not to make anyone suspicious that they were going to set the fire of rebellion by using their own bodies.
They finally succeeded in getting everyone to sleep late that night.
The night was disappearing as the morning was coming in.
Ferhat was writing the last sentences of his letter written to “the future”
“Before drowning in the whirlpool of betrayal.
Before our actions fade away
And before these betrayals multiply like viruses
We are to carry the flag of pride from our soul
We must put our struggle on Kawa’s buffet
And put our hearts into the fanned fires.
Our path in this dungeon is lighted now
We will light three matches for four
And we will be guests of the martyrs tonight.”
Four rebel arsonists took out the paint thinner from under their beds
They sat cross-legged on the middle of the ward and bathed themselves with thinner
They were sitting face to face , knee to knee
And they lit four matches , four of them at a time
So began the fire of rebellion
As if the fire was burning down a castle of tyranny, not the four bodies
They tried to put out the fire with buckets of water
Voices rose from the fire:
“Do not put out the fire! Raise the fire! Raise the fire!”
The doors of the ward open.
Commandoes rush in with fear
They see the bodies in fire
They know well the fire means rebellion.
In fear, they tried to put out the fire of four bodies.
And they laid four bodies down next to each other.
Somebody called “attention!” with excitement
Captain Esat Oktay Yildiran is coming
Esat stands by the dead bodies.
“Guard of the ward! Who are these?”
“Commander, the first one is Ferhat Kurtay!”
“Ok my boy, understood” he says
He lights a cigarette and leaves without saying a word.
Esat saw the fire of rebellion, the fire Mazlum Dogan set ,
And now Ferhat killed both the death and the fear.
Esat sweats in anxiety when thinking ” am I the sum of those two things burned?”
“What kind of people are they? What kind of strength do they have? I’m surprised at their strength!” he mumbled.
And now it is the time in this hell, that they prefer death with honor rather than life without humanity.
14 July, 1982
Main hall , also known as the lobby of court hearings.
Prisoners are brought first to this lobby in groups
Every group makes a straight line in their own ward.
The ward’s guard orders ” Stand at ease! Attention!”
While the group is at attention:
Ward’s guard :
“March , march along to the Janissary band’s anthem!”
The group walks in order and says in unison:
“your ancestors , fathers and grandfathers,
All heroes of the Turk nation.”
They start marching with this anthem.
In another ward , another guard :
“Along with the regiment’s anthem , march, march!”
A group of prisoners walks in order
“My mother raised me and sent me to these lands
Gave me the red flag , entrusted me to Allah
Don’t be lazy , work and serve your country, she told me
I won’t give up my milk to you if you wont attack the enemy,
Forward to the highest heaven , march forward, a Turk soldier never turns back!”
In another ward , another guard:
“March, march along the Harbiye march!”
A group of prisoners :
“We’re the folk of a nation who creates lightning
We’re the keepers of a history of storms.”
One group from each ward marches
Every group sings a march
Raising knees up to the stomach
Heads upright and arms back and forth
The ones marching are being kicked by the commandoes
They being faced against the wall in the lobby.
All are being handcuffed behind their backs.
The chain that goes under their arms becomes locked at the chest of the next prisoner
“attention!” is ordered
Chief of the block, Building Sami comes into lobby
The Prisoners all go at ease
The prisoners now all stand at attention.
“Start the Turkish national anthem!”
The Prisoners begin to sing it in a dead voice
“What kind of voice is this? Bastards!”
The Prisoners keep singing the anthem mumbling
Guards with the cudgels begin beating the handcuffed and chained prisoners.
” The whole anthem is to be sung by all of you!” he yells
Whatever he did, he could not get the prisoners to raise their voice!…
When they reach the third part of the anthem, the prisoners sing all together:
” I’ve lived free ever since and will do so,
Which crazy one dares to chain me? I’ll be surprised!
I’ll go beyond myself like a roaring flood
I’ll tear down the mountains , I won’t fit in oceans , I’ll flood!”
they began singing loudly.
The Guards and Little Second-Lieutenant understand now, this is a rebellion
And the Anthem is cut.
Building Sami begins to beat the chained prisoners without knowing what will happen soon.
They were handcuffed by their wrists and chained by their arms
Twenty-five people were arranged in two rows. By the order of the Guard they bent their heads and leaned onto each others’ back. They’ve been put into the truck in this position.
As soon as the doors closed they were all on the floor being beaten by the soldiers who are responsible for their security.
That hot July day, they were all gasping for breath in the truck.
It was as if they were riding in an oven.
And Commanders were walking over them
They were stepping on their heads
They’re being taken down in front of the 7th Army Corps Martial Law Trial as if they were the gladiators taken to the Roman times arena.
They are in the court.
The court was cool compared to the car they came in.
All the AC was on.
Prisoners sat where they were told.
Everyone must put his hand on his knee, hold his head straight, look at the Ataturk portrait which hung on the wall in front of them.
This was the rule and they obeyed it.
They stood up when judge came in.
They sit when they are told.
Meanwhile a woman dressed in a white shirt and mini skirt, her hair done; a little more makeup than usual came in.
She came down the stairs and sat in the front.
She put the white paper in the typewriter which the “Decision” would be typed on.
In front of her prisoners were seated and Turkish flags were on the wall.
Behind her there was a bust of Ataturk.
Under this bust, there was writing:
“Justice is the foundation of the Nation”
Under this bust and writing there the court committee was seated. They were a crowd.
Attorney General Bulent Cahit Aydogan was seated in front of the committee. He was blond, medium height, in his 40s, dressed in a military uniform with captain’s epaulets.
The president of the court Commander Kemal Kavi was in his 60s, thick hair, tough looking, barely speaking, looking at the prisoners with piercing eyes, dressed with an airforce uniform, he was differentiated from the others.
The trail judge was General Emrullah Kaya, He was in his 60s, and he didn’t look at all like a judge. He looked more like an executioner. He sees everybody he judges as an enemy. He always joined the trail in his military uniform. He speaks a lot and doesn’t allow prisoner to speak.
The other judge Niyazi Erdogan was the only civilian judge. He was around middle age, medium height, with red cheeks, he was shy. He was there only to be seen as a civilian member and had no effect on anyone.
On the right side of the trial committee the Lawyers were seated. Erding Uzunoglu, Suleyman Demirkapi and one more lawyer who the prisoners didn’t know.
When viewed from the side where the lawyers are seated you would see more than a hundred prisoners there. All their heads were bald, and all were dressed in black military coats.
The military uniforms were too loose for some and too tight for others,
They were too short for some and too tall for others.
Those who did every cruelty did everything to hurt the prisoners dignity and that was why their uniforms didn’t fit.
The prisoner’s faces were very pale.
Their lips were cracked, their eyes were worried!
Among the prisoners there were commanders with sticks in their hands.
And if that wasn’t enough, there were two soldiers with weapons on the right and left side of the court.
In a place where justice was founded with a weapon, the court judge Emrullah Kaya said:
“Write it lady, the court is in session.”
The sound of the typewriter was grating to the ear.
“It is seen that the prisoners are all here and present”
Everybody moves to their places freely
Among the prisoners someone raises his hand. He was slim, and tall.
The Court committee knew him very well:
He quit his medical school in the fourth year. He returned to his country Kurdistan and began to organize his people and he was arrested in a home in Mardin along with Ferhat Kaya. During his investigation and all of his trials, he defended his case. He was a leader, a pioneer for the Kurdish people. He displayed an attitude of strong and charismatic leadership. When the trail judge Emrullah Kaya saw he was raising his hand:
“Yes! Mehmet Hayri Durmus” he was supposed to say
But he didn’t.
He knew that Hayri was going to stand up in front of them
And defend Kurdistan’s rightful case.
But when Hayri raises his hand persistantly and says “I will speak”
“Okay Hayri, I will give you time little later” He said and continued to the trail.
After that everybody’s eyes were at Hayri.
They waited for him. “Come on! “.
When Hayri was called to the lectern he went quickly.
First he adjusted the microphone to his height;
He then scanned the trail committee with a piercing look, than he looked at the lawyers.
“Up to now we told the trail committee what we faced, what was done to us.
None of the offenses have been corrected or resolved so far.
From now on, we don’t believe they will be resolved. Because these trails are political trails. The politics facing us are government politics. We face unbelievable torture and suffering because we defend our thoughts here in front of you. Until now we took everything lying down to be able to defend our beliefs.
And one more time he summarized the things that happen in prison.
….And: “There is a people who are being trailed here.
It is Kurdish people who they want to dismiss here.
He stops here and turns to the prisoners and points to them.
“You were witnessed how these people were seated in front of you, how they came and went, how they introduced themselves loudly and how they have been beaten in front of you.
And you are witnessing that now as well.”
Towards this unexpected rebel the court committee were shocked.
And Hayri exactly at this point says what he is supposed to say:
“I am starting dead strike and I am committed to finish until the end.”
Court committee had short discussion than court judge Emrullah Kaya:
“Hayri, leave dead strike. We will write your complain to Big court”
Hayri without saying anything but having a look saying”this play till here” goes to his seat.
On his way to his seat he salutes all his friends one by one.
He reads the hope, courage and determination in their eyes.
Not that Hayri seated Kemal Pir stood up.
With hope and courage in his voice:
“I agree with Hayri and I join the dead strike too.”
Than Ali Cicek and Fuat Cavgun follow him.
Than Ali Kilic and Bedrettin Kavak, and others…….
“I join dead strike too”
“I join dead strike too”
“I join dead strike too”
The court committee without taking their notes, books, without saying “court ended” they leave like fleeing.