Today we continue our “Witnesses of Gezi” series with Mustafa Sarisuluk, the brother of Ethem Sarisuluk, who was killed in Ankara. He was very calm but the things he recounted devastated me.
You lost your brother, Ethem Sarisuluk. We would like to offer our condolences to you and your family. The policeman who shot him has been identified. Everyone watched it happen. But the policeman who killed him is still pending trial. How are you feeling?
-I feel a lot of things all at once.
Despair, hopelessness, anger?
-Not despair. As a family, we’ve kept our hope and resistance strong. But our revolt and anger is endless. We are devastated as we experience the injustice and lawlessness. The public officials, jurists and most importantly the Prime Minister’s quietness are troubling us. Don’t get me wrong, we are not going to give up. We will raise our voice in judicial, democratic and international platforms to end this injustice and hold the responsible parties accountable.
How do you spend your days? Can you sleep? How are your parents?
-They are wretched. No one can sleep. They lost their son. On top of this, they see this unjust approach. They are suffering from an unspeakable pain. A young man lost his life after he was shot in the head. Someone pulled the trigger. We know who he is. The video recordings are available everywhere. We lost a life, our blood. But there is no response from the state. The Prime Minister’s statements, sarcastic attitude and his protection of the criminals are infuriating to us. Not only us, but to everyone. Instead of accepting the situation and regulating the police department, he has been negligent and, instead, tried to discipline the people. My brother is not here anymore, he is buried. We lost a life, is there anything else? We don’t have more to lose as a family. That is why we will fight until the end no matter what the consequences.
Were you expecting an outcome like this?
-No, because this totally inhumane!
What do you think of the police officer’s statements like, “They threw stones at me, it was self-defense, I had to shoot to protect myself”
-What can I say? I can only say “Oh my God!” Anyone who calls himself a human being cannot defend himself like this when the entire incident happened in front of the public. He cannot say, “I am innocent”. His conscience cannot let him, assuming he has a conscience. This shows the gravity of the situation. Also, this shows us how crooked and corrupt the system is. The ballistic evidence, the autopsy report, the crime scene investigation reports and witness accounts are very clear. But in spite of the evidence, that police officer can walk away as a free man.
What would you say to that police officer if you met him face to face?
-I wouldn’t want to meet him. Besides, I don’t think he could be that brave. I know he is under protection and strongly supported. I know that he is praised by the Prime Minister.To save the PM the trouble our family will give him a medal of honor so that he can present it to the police officer…
POLICE ARE LYING
What would you say to the Prime Minister if you met him?
-I would tell him about Ethem. I want him to hear about my brother from me, if he has the heart. I am one of the common people, I have daily concerns just like millions of others. I would never hurt anyone. I don’t shout, I don’t attack. But I know that I won’t get to meet him.
There are also rumors about the police officer claiming that he took his helmet off. In the videos, we can see that he has his helmet on.
-We are living the days of lies, slanders and degradation. We are ashamed of being “human”. How low can one get? How can one be so insincere? We are here, we are not doing anything. But people are making these kinds of claims to defend the situation they are in.
Nothing will bring Ethem back but there is a lot of support. Does this ease your pain?
-Yes. We lost Ethem but millions of Ethems are standing on their feet and saluting him today. They take up his legacy.
I WAS CLOSE TO ETHEM THAT DAY
What if there was an apology?
-Apologizing is a beautiful tradition of the Anatolian people. We accept our mistakes when we are wrong and we apologize. But they declared us “enemies”. There is no explanation for this. We are not expecting anything. We aren’t even expecting any condolence. More importantly, they shouldn’t apologize just to us. They need to apologize to all the people. We want prosecution of those who have devastated young people’s lives. But we don’t expect anything for us, for our family, or for Ethem.
Did you ever think “what if Ethem didn’t go that day”?
-No, never. This is one’s most democratic right protected by the constitution. Freedom to protest, freedom to gather, freedom to march… People should be encouraged to express themselves. It is a virtue to ask for your rights in a conscious way.
Were you there that day?
-Yes, I was. I was actually very close. But I didn’t realize that it was Ethem who was shot, at first.
THAT BULLET WAS AIMED AT THE PEOPLE, NOT ETHEM
How much younger was he?
-He was 6 years younger than I.
Who has been affected the worst in your family?
-My mother and my sister Fikrinaz, who was 2 years older than Ethem. She took care of him when my mother was working. Ethem was like her kid. She loved him very much and always paid a lot of attention to him.
How many siblings do you have?
-We were 4. But now we are 3. Such an unexpected loss devastates the entire family. We feel an emptiness that we cannot make sense of or describe. We can see each other’s pain in our eyes. May God protect all families from such tragedies! It isn’t something that you can get used to or forget. That bullet was aimed at the people, not at Ethem…
27 June 2013
This post is also available in: Turkish