Everyone has a story. Sefa Akyüz’s story unfolded in a way rarely seen in the history of law. The lawless regime of the Republic of Turkey had depicted all its unlawfulness on him like an ugly painting. The arbitrary denial of conditional release rights in Turkish prisons had trapped him, like many others, for years. Sefa was a young citizen with ideals. He was striving to receive a good education at a good university. He enrolled in a preparatory course for university entrance exams. With private lessons and extra classes, he was finally accepted into the International Relations Department of Istanbul University.
He had a good command of English and could excel in his own field of expertise. However, there were some obstacles. He had to work to be able to afford his studies. He tried various jobs and eventually found a way to enter the profession that would shape his life. He noticed the potential in handmade carpets produced in his village. He was born in Simav and had considerable knowledge about these carpets. When combined with his English skills, he decided to venture into entrepreneurship in this field. He was able to continue his education without burdening his family.
After graduating from university, he didn’t consider a career. He decided to become a tradesman. He opened a store selling Simav carpets in Eskişehir, Turkey. Business was going well. He was recognized and liked by his merchant friends. He conducted his trade in accordance with the laws and paid his taxes regularly. His friendly demeanor, courageous attitude, and selfless friendship quickly made him a beloved figure. Everything was going well until a determined force set out to disrupt his life and destroy all his happy days and friendships.
One morning, the police knocked on his door. He was arrested in front of his young children by dozens of police officers. He had no criminal record before. If they had called, he could have easily gone to the police station. He couldn’t understand what was happening. He was shocked when he saw the charges against him in the initial police statement.
His close relations with merchants had led to his arrest as a suspected member of an organized crime organization. He bravely defended himself in court. He clearly stated that he had not committed any crimes and had never supported any illegal organization. The allegations were based on abstract concepts. Official bank account numbers and legal association memberships were used as the grounds for his arrest. While watching television in his cell, he learned about the events of July 15 and what was happening in the country.
Despite the lack of any evidence belonging to any organized crime organization, the file suddenly transformed into a “Membership in an Armed Terrorist Organization” case. How could he have committed any armed action while in custody? Despite the pressure, he never mentioned his friends as terrorists and never identified himself as one. As a result, he was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
He had expectations from the higher court. He believed that there were people in this system who remembered the law. However, when the judge who unjustly sentenced him, Faruk Şener, was promoted to the Court of Cassation, his hope faded away. Faruk Şener drove another nail into the coffin of justice by approving the file that he had unlawfully sentenced.
Years passed with the expectation of asking reasonable questions about the justice system and expecting legal answers. He was still in custody. Sefa served his sentence and completed it. He was just a tradesman and had to raise his children in front of the prison. Although his period of detention had legally ended due to the unjust sentence given by the judge, the arbitrary practices of the prison administration extended his detention for another year. The family, who had to accept all the unlawfulness, was caught in the clutches of nightmares and eagerly awaited reunion. The “Conditional Release Board” that descended upon the family extended the period of detention by 3 more months.
The dark aspects of injustice in Sefa’s picture can be summarized as follows: unlawful arrest, being tried as a member of an organized crime organization, baseless imprisonment, turning the case into a terrorism membership trial, unjust 9-year prison sentence without any evidence, full enforcement of the unjust sentence, arbitrary extension of detention for another year by the “Prison Release Board,” and further extension of the sentence by 3 months. His situation is actually a summary of the situation of thousands of people held in Turkish prisons. Now, Sefa is asking those who know him to raise their voices. He doesn’t know when he will be released from the prison where he was detained!