Remember “Riot Granny” from Istanbul? She has been in jail for two months now. Emine Cansever (53), a.k.a. Riot Granny, was arrested with 18 other people in home raids in Gülsuyu neighborhood two months ago. Emine Cansever is accused of being a member of a “terrorist organization”.
Pro-government media started a smear campaign right after her image with a sling shot went viral in both local and international media. Based on police reports, the media incriminated her of being a member of DİH (Revolutionary Worker’s Movement) and leading “illegal” protests on behalf of the organization. These allegedly terroristic activities included legal protests such as Hey Textile workers’ struggle against the company that refuses to pay their compensations and three months of salary, and protests against drug gangs in her neighborhood.
Although the smear campaign started in June, it was not until last October that Cansever was arrested, right after she gave an interview during Gülsuyu incidents. She was seen with other locals on neighborhood watch using a stick for protection against armed drug gangs during the violent incidents that resulted in the death of Hasan Ferit Gedik (21), being shot by gangsters.
When she was asked during interrogation about her famous photo with the sling shot, she said she could not stand seeing young people getting shot with rubber bullets and gas canisters and just grabbed a sling shot from one of the kids. During the Gülsuyu incidents, she drew attention to the increase of drugs, thievery and prostitution in the neighborhood, and the heat was pushed up among the locals after Hasan Ferit’s murder.
Gülsuyu is at the center of an urban transformation project, and the locals have been systematically harassed by armed gangs hired by construction companies to move out. Before the killing of Hasan Ferit, there had been several incidents resulting in injuries. Children are forced to carry drugs, women are harassed, and shopkeepers are forced to pay rackets by the gangs. Neither police nor courts have taken action. Gülsuyu is famous for its strong history of revolutionism, which led the youth to take action and arm themselves to protect their own neighborhood.
Taking care of her schizophrenic and diabetic brother, Cansever demanded to be released on conditions of arrest without trial. Her demand was declined by the court on the basis of her brother’s “not living on the streets”. Being diabetic herself, she is also told to be struggling with the hard conditions of prison and needs proper medical care.
Unreasonable periods of detention have become a state strategy during AKP ruling to oppress the opposition including thousands of journalists, socialists, politicians and students. Current jurisdiction policy gives the courts permission to accuse the opposition of terrorism, which enables the long durations of imprisonment, hence restriction of freedom.
10 December 2013