Hürriyet: “My twelve-year-old son was arrested. I almost lost my mind.”




We continue Gezi testimonies with Derya.

What she has been through is nerve-racking .
Her twelve-year-old son, Alperen, was arrested. Inside an armed riot vehicle called Scorpion, he was taken around Ankara.  The police hit his head over and over again and kicked him numerous times. Mistaking the woman next to Alperen as his mother, the police made her kiss their police badge. They cursed and threatened her. They were shouting, “We are the grandchildren of the Ottomans; Let Atatürk come and save you now!”

I went to Ankara to interview Derya.  In tears, she told me what she had been through.

What’s your name?

- Derya.

How old are you?

- 32.

Please introduce yourself to us.

- I am from Ankara. I am married with three kids. I work in a shopping mall as a salesperson. And my husband is a custodian in a firm. We live in Dikmen neighborhood  We are modest people, working hard to make both ends meet. Our only asset is our three children.

What happened on the night of the 22nd of June?

-When I got home from work, my sister called me and said, “In Dikmen Street the situation is really bad. Don’t go out today!” Until that day, we had participated in the protests with children. The protests were very festive. During the protests, we were dancing, playing games. We would expres our disapproval of the recent events in many  ways, but return home by midnight.  The protests were so peaceful that I used to take even my 5 year-old daughter with me. However, on the 22nd of June, when I realized that the boys weren’t home I got concerned.

How old are your sons?

- 14 and 12 years old. They went to the protest with their friends. I had a bad feeling and rushed out to find and bring them home. I left my daughter at home with her father. As I shut the door behind me I said, “I’ll be back soon.” I didn’t want to concern my husband. I took the bus to Dikmen Street.

A boy, named Alperen, has gone missing in Dikmen!

What did you see on the streets?

- It was a disaster! It was like a battlefield. People were running here and there in chaos. Gas clouds were so dense that I couldn’t see anything. I was devastated by panic and fear. I could see many children around, but not my children.The moment I saw my sons, I was ecstatic. I said, “Come on, we’re going home.” As we turned the corner, a Scorpion started to approach us spraying tear gas. It was like  inferno yet again. Everybody was running in panic.  At that instant, I lost sight of my sons.

It’s horrible.

-It was, indeed. I can’t describe how devastated I was. I was screaming at the top of my lungs “Where are you?” No answer. Everybody was trying to survive. Nobody could hear one another’s cry for help. I have asthma, so I had to seek shelter in a building.

What did you feel when you lost  your children in the midst of such a crowd?

-I just lost it. In that havoc, the power was shut off. People took out flashlights from their bags. At that moment, I saw my elder son. I ran towards him. “Mom, I am burning!”, he said. From a riot control vehicle,  pressurized water was delivered on him. They say, “there are no chemicals or irritants in the water,” but it is an lie lie. My son’s entire body along with his eyes was burning. We washed his eyes with some milk. I asked him, “Where is your brother?” I thought they were together. He said he didn’t know. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I left my elder son with a relative and hurried to look for the younger one. But, he was nowhere to be found. I kept asking   people, “Have you seen boy at about this height with blue shoes?” The answer was always no. Some people must have taken pity on me because they put a note on the Twitter: “A boy named Alperen has been lost in Dikmen!”

What were you thinking at that moment?

-One thinks of the worst and makes up a million horrible scenarios: “What happened to him? Where is he right now? Was he hurt in the turmoil? Is his skin burning because of the water? Has he been suffocated because of the tear gas? Was he hit by a tear gas bomb cartridge or by a rubber bullet? Is someone beating him ?” I was utterly losing my mind. Besides, my younger son has a learning disability.  There is nothing wrong with his IQ. He is a very smart kid, but needs counseling. Knowing how hard it must be for him, I was petrified.

I looked for him until 4 in the morning.

Were you crying? 

-It is strange that I didn’t cry that night.  Usually I am very emotional but in such extreme conditions,  I felt divinely strong.  I guess mother it was a mother’s instinct to take care of her baby that gave me strength and endurance. All I could think of was finding my son.


-I looked for him until the 4 o’clock in the morning. Nobody had seen him. The police patrolled all night. It was the worse night of my life. At last, I took my elder son home. My husband was waiting for us, oblivious to what has happened. I told him everything and he called the police station. They said, “There are four people in custody and neither is a kid.” I called again and they repeated the same thing. Then someone called us and said: “I was there. The police arrested your son! They forced him in a Scorpion. I have visual proof. His friend gave me your number.” We rushed out and met that person to see the video recording. Yes, it was Alperen. At that moment, CHP deputy, Orhan Düzgün’s advisor called and helped us.

So, what happened exactly?

-In that mayhem, Alperen and his friend of similar age, took refuge behind a building. After the effects of tear gas subsided, they came out back to the street and the police detained them.

Does Alperen look older than he is?

-No, not at all. He looks like a 12-year-old boy. They arrested a woman of 47 with Alperen. As they forced Alperen into the Scorpion, they asked him, “She’s your mother, isn’t she?” Alperen denied, but nobody listened to him. The police arrested that woman just because they thought that she was Alperen’s mother. They know that the protestors take the street with all their families. What happened in that Scorpion devastated Alperen.

What happened in that Scorpion?

-They beat both Alperen and that woman. They kicked my son’s legs. They hit his head. There are many lumps and bruises all over his head and neck. But, what they did to that woman disturbed and upset Alperen the most. They kept saying, “You should love and respect the police!” And they forced her to kiss their badge. As the woman refused, the police officers hit her harder. According to Alperen, they kept saying, “Well, you are Atatürk’s soldiers, ha? Let Atatürk come and save you now!” They called themselves the grandchildren of the Ottomans.

Beating Alperen inside a Scorpion, the police drove around Dikmen.

All these are horrible things! How did you finally meet with your son?

-After learning what happened, I called the police department again and complained, “They put my child into a Scorpion.” They responded, “Nonsense. It’s not true!” When I said, “I have video recordings as,” they put me on hold. Then, the police officer scolded me: “Ms, what was your child doing in the streets at that time of the night?” Dikmen is a very lively neighborhood, where we always sit in the parks up until midnight and kids play in the streets. But, I was in no mood to explain this to the police officer. I just said, “This is none of your business. You just do your job!” Then thanks to the deputy Orhan Düzgün that Scorpion was found. It turned out that they were beating Alperen in that Scorpion which was touring around Dikmen.

Then what did they do? Did they bring him to the police station?

-No. They took him first to the coroner’s office to get a report of his well being called “clean sheet.” Of course, they were aware of the extend of what  they had done, but they wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t be held accountable. Are they really expecting us  believe a piece of paper that says Alperen was not harmed in any way? Alperen said that the doctors didn’t even examine him in the coroner’s office. They just gave that report! We waited for Alperen in front of the Dikmen police station. Finally, at dawn, I could hug my son. He said: “Don’t worry. I am fine.” I took off his T-shirt and checked. They didn’t hit where bruises would be  visible. There wasn’t anything on his back. The woman said, “Look at his head. They hit his head.” As I was caressing his head, I could feel  that his neck and head was swollen. It was unbearable to realize that they beat and kick your child, the apple of your eye, and that you could not do anything about it.

I want everybody to learn how unjust this is.

Did you confront the police officers inside that Scorpion?

-No. I would have attacked them! I felt as much sorry for that woman as I did for my son. I’ll never forget the expression in her face. They brought her with her hands cuffed. She said, “I wish they had beaten me until the morning instead of insulting me.” The police used a sexist profane language and assaulted her: “Who walks on the streets at this time of the night? Don’t you know? Or you are one of them? We can do such horrible things to you that nobody can save you.” Then they took us to the department of juvenile affairs to take Alperen’s testimony. Then they took him in front of the prosecutor. Later, I learnt that taking the testimony of a 12 years old kid was illegal. Before we get back home,  we went to the Hacettepe hospital and got a health status report. Finally, we were home. While I was bathing my son, I saw the bruises on his legs. It was at that moment when I could no longer compose myself and began to sob.

How is Alperen now?

-He’s suffering from the trauma. He didn’t even want to leave the bed this morning. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t want to speak. As a family, we are doing our best to ease his suffering.   Tomorrow, he will start having psychological counseling at the Gazi University Hospital.  We will file a criminal complaint against those police officers, the chief of police, the coroner and the Prime Minister who is responsible this brutality. What we have been through is brutal and inhumane.  As if to mock with us,the official report about my son stated “No explosives were found on the above-mentioned suspect and he is not a member of any illegal organization.” He is just 12, for God’s sake! I want that everybody to learn about the injustice my son had to face.

Ayşe Arman
29 June 2013
Source : cep.hurriyet.com.tr


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