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HomeHeadlineLesson of Humanity from İnce Memed's Asım Çavuş

Lesson of Humanity from İnce Memed’s Asım Çavuş

Mehmet Tahsin*

Ince Memed, written by Yaşar Kemal, one of the biggest novelist of Turkish literature, was a book I hadn’t had the chance to read until today. For the past few days, I immersed myself in it. Those who have read it know that Ince Memed, who rebels against the tyranny of Abdi Ağa, which oppresses the villagers, goes up to the mountains and becomes a bandit after injuring Ağa. Unlike the other bandits, he is a friend of the good and an enemy of the evil.

Sergeant Asım Bey of the Gendarmerie has been chasing Ince Memed for years. No matter how many times he corners him, he cannot capture Memed. Even though Memed shoots at him to defend himself, he always says, “Go away, Asım Çavuş, let death not come from my hands,” and he can’t bring himself to shoot the sergeant.

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After a while, when Ince Memed’s fiancée Hatçe, who was imprisoned with a plot by Abdi Ağa, and her prison friend Iraz Ana are being transferred to another prison, Memed intercepts them and takes them away from the hands of the gendarmerie. They find a cave in the mountains and make it their home. Days turn into months. Hatçe is about to give birth to a child for Ince Memed. The pains of childbirth have begun. Just then, due to a momentary carelessness of Memed, the cave they were hiding in is discovered by Asım Çavuş, and the soldiers surround the cave.

They shoot at each other for hours. Then, amidst the sounds of bullets, a baby’s voice emerges from the cave. However, Memed is also wounded. Iraz loads the rifles, and Memed continues to shoot with one arm. Finally, he runs out of strength; he turns to Hatçe and Iraz and says, “They won’t let me survive. Name my son Memed,” and he goes outside. He raises his rifle in the air and shouts, “I surrender… I surrender, Asım Çavuş!”

For Asım Çavuş, capturing Memed and delivering him to justice has become the purpose of his life. He cannot believe that a bandit like Ince Memed would surrender. After ordering the soldiers to cease fire, he himself enters the cave. He takes Memed’s hand and with a smile, says, “Congratulations, İnce Memed!” Ince Memed also says, “Thank you,” then extends his hands for the handcuffs.

At that very moment, Iraz, who had crouched in a corner of the cave, suddenly leaps up and says, “Sergeant, Sergeant!… Are you saying that you captured İnce Memed?” She goes to a corner, swiftly removes the blanket from the baby, and a chubby baby appears with its puffy eyes.

“This is what captured İnce Memed. And you boast of being a man,” she confronts Asım Çavuş.

Asım Çavuş is taken aback. He looks at Hatçe, then Iraz, then Memed. He reaches out his hand to Memed, takes the handcuffs, and the following words escape his lips:

“Ince Memed!… I am not the man who will capture you in this situation,” he says and leaves the cave.

If you have visualized this scene in your mind, surely what came to my mind has also come to yours.

Forget about arresting fathers of newborn babies, remember the police of the regime who eagerly await to put handcuffs on the mothers they will arrest at the doors of maternity wards… Police officers who have lost their share of humanity and do not recognize law and order…

And the prosecutors who give the order to ‘go, get them, bring them’.

Remember the judges who arrest postpartum mothers trembling with their newborn babies in their arms without batting an eye…

The innocent children whose knees are bruised from crawling in the concrete courtyard of the prison covered with a steel cage…

Not only in Çukurova but throughout the country, those rulers who have become worse than Abdi Ağa, oppressing and tormenting the people…

Despite all the injustice they have suffered, remember the tens of thousands of volunteers who have had their property, possessions, freedom, and right to life taken away, yet have not raised a hand or shown the slightest resistance.

And to those who now call you terrorists, just like they used to call them bandits in the past, say this:

Get out of here! Can someone like this be a terrorist?

*Mehmet Tahsin is a journalist and a columnist at TR724.com

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