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Dr. Selçuk Mızraklı: We are faced with the ‘dance of crises’

Removed from office by the Interior Ministry on August 19, 2019, HDP’s dismissed Diyarbakır Metropolitan Co-Mayor Selçuk Mızraklı has been arrested since October 22. He has answered the questions of bianet from Kayseri Bünyan Prison.

Nov 11  2020

By Evrim Kepenek

İstanbul - BIA News Desk


Dr. Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı was the Metropolitan Co-Mayor of Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakır. After trustees were appointed to the Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Metropolitan Municipalities of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van provinces by the Interior Ministry on August 19, 2019, Selçuk Mızraklı had to leave office.

In Diyarbakır province, where there are 1,049,462 registered voters, 820,182 people cast ballots in the last local elections on March 31, 2019 and 490,507 (62.93 percent) of these voters voted for Selçuk Mızraklı. That was how he was elected Diyarbakır Metropolitan Co-Mayor.

Mızraklı was taken into custody in Diyarbakır on October 21, 2019 and arrested by the court on October 22. Based on the statements of a witness named H.B.A., he was charged with "being a member of an organization" and "propagandizing for a terrorist organization."

Zülal Erdoğan, the attorney of Mızraklı, referred to the social insurance records and indicated that Mızraklı was not working at the hospital at the time alleged by H.B.A. The attorney said that the statements of the witness were fabricated. However, the court handed down its judgement on March 9, 2020 and sentenced Mızraklı to 9 years, 4 months, 15 days in prison on the upper limit based on the statements of H.B.A. and his membership of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Health Commission.

Held in Kayseri Bünyan Prison in Central Anatolia for over a year now, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, also a physician, could be practicing his profession now amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic if he had not been arrested based on a fictional scenario, as indicated by his attorneys.

'The more blunt the center gets...'

Selçuk Mızraklı has answered the questions of bianet from prison.

I want to start from the end... How do you react to all these developments, the appointment of a trustee and your time in prison?

It has recently been a year. The time dimension does not mean much without questioning if the time recorded by calendars and the time lived through by every person is the same or looking at what countries are going through and evaluating what has been lost and won in the meantime.

As my close friends and relatives knew that I had been working really hard even on feasts and at the weekends for the past 15 years, they said that I would take a little rest here. I do not know what kind of rest that is; as long as the heart still beats, my mind will not stop, my mind and feelings will always be bothered by not being able to do something.

This precisely answers your question: The economy of the poor for years, the sociology of poverty and deprivation, matters of public health for years, struggle for human rights for years, the efforts to have a university that complies with the reality of the city for years, the efforts for democratic politics and for a deeper and more developed local democracy and, lastly, the appointment of a trustee in place of a metropolitan mayor who was elected with the highest number of votes in the city's history...

Detention and arrest when we raise a democratic objection with a commonsensical, but determined stance in the face of this lawlessness and usurpation of voters' will... Those who cannot compete politically always resort to the same "coercive" methods.

But if additions are made to your case file that have nothing to do with life and reality, then woe to you. There is a saying among the people that I like very much: "A bad temper harms its possessor most". In other words, the more blunt the center gets, the more harm we all suffer.

'It is as if there were two separate Turkeys'

Can you describe your ward for us?

This is an area of around 120 square meters (including the area for getting air). The sky can be seen from the wire net, but we cannot reach the green at all. Glass, iron, plastic, concrete... With four young people with whom we share the ward and have turned it into a shared living space, we have been living in the order that we have established together, defying time.

I used to like reading in the past as well, but I did not have so much time as I have here. I am now reading as if investing for the future and I am writing from time to time. I have been watching the world from newspapers, on TV and from our conversations with the attorneys who come here.

What do you see?

The name of our side is certain, but it does not look much pleasant on your side. Roads are blocked, miners cannot hold a march; nature has been confined to mining sites, concrete sites and geothermal energy stations; politics have been confined to the parliament, debates are more like they were from a low comedy; the spare capital of not only the Central Bank, but that of the people on the street has been used up. The lack of financial and moral support leads to burnout as well.

It is as if there were two separate Turkeys: On the one side, there is a country which shoulders its burden even across the mountains; on the other side, there is a vast majority who have difficulties in finding their way in a plain road and reaching even the next week.

'There is no progress despite recommendations'

What kind of hardships do you face?

When it comes to the pandemic we are going through here, the Ministry of Justice in general and the prison administration in particular is trying to act carefully and meticulously about the physical and bodily precautions.

Minimum support is provided in terms of masks-distance and hygiene. As far as I know, none of the prisoners has contracted the virus so far. It is also right to test the prison personnel before they enter and leave the prison and when they change shifts. As for the needs provided from outside, we keep them waiting or disinfect them and, if it is food, we again do the necessary disinfection (with bleach mixtures).

What is forgotten is the moral side of it. Two non-contact visits by two family members (for 45 minutes each), right to make two 10-minute phone calls a week, meeting with attorneys in an isolated area and there is no entry to shared spaces (for sports, library, workshop).

There has been no progress despite the recommendations. As for the books and magazines sent from outside, they are given in limited numbers and with delays of over a month. The prison administration knows best how much one can read, after all!

'Hope and trust must be established'

As a physician yourself, how do you see this period from prison?

The pandemic is to be basically evaluated in the entire country in following points: The management style of the process; analysis and satisfaction of human- and society-based needs and requests; the preparation and reorganization of medical infrastructure; awareness-sensitivity-consciousness and solidarity based on socio-cultural criteria; knowledge-experience-support works with other countries. While these should have been all developed together on a wide basis and axis and based on natural-organic sharing, it has been carried out in an ultra-centralist manner, it has been carried out almost on the scale of a security distance.

When we consider the prioritized and ignored groups, we can see both the biopolitics and economy-politics of this process. The reality comes into light in one way or another, touch-ups cannot cover it up.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Five years from now, this process will be recalled as "10 TRY", "bread on a hanger", "39 TRY", precarity and loneliness. Disloyalty and lack of appreciation to the ones shouldering the medical burden of the process...

It is a period when cries are not heard, the lost lives are not deemed worthy of even a number and new stories of playing ostrich are piled up on another. It has yet been the first wave of the pandemic and some have started talking about a second wave of closure against the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). This is an unprecedented practice when we look at the world in such a period and it indicates the road that the country has been going down.

There is a basic approach in medicine when it comes to critical patient care. We say, "Whatever is deficient in the patient, restore and balance it." In such a case as a pandemic which causes harm in multiple systems, the fundamental public approach is to compensate the deficiencies of the individual and society.

Moreover, in addition to restoring and compensating, hope and trust must be established. While there is a need for proactive policies that enlighten, make way and eliminate the losses, both the public debt and individual consumer loans have peaked, saying, "A person works harder when s/he has debts."

We are faced with the "dance of crises", so to speak. If the motor burns out, it will again be the workers and producers who will pay the price for this. The solution lies in a democracy, citizens' will and a democratic system where fair practices and people's participation are ensured, as is always the case.

What happened?

Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı was dismissed as Diyarbakır Mayor by the Ministry of Interior on August 19, 2019, on the grounds of an ongoing "terrorism-related" against him. He was taken into custody on October 21, as part of an investigation conducted by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. He was remanded in custody one day later on charges of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "membership of a terrorist organization."

The indictment issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office was accepted by the Diyarbakır 11th Heavy Penal Court on November 11. Mızraklı has been facing 7.5 to 15 years in prison on the offenses charged.

His indictment refers to the accounts of witness H.B.A., based on which Mızraklı was arrested. H.B.A. alleged that a "Hogır" code-named Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) member was taken to a private hospital in Diyarbakır after being wounded, he was operated by Mızraklı and discharged from the hospital without being turned over to security forces. However, according to Social Security Institution (SGK) records, H.B.A. was not working at the hospital at the time when Mızraklı allegedly did the surgery.

Arrested for 1 month in 2018 as part of an investigation into the DTK, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı faced one lawsuit and eight investigations on charges of "establishing and leading an armed terrorist organization, being a member of an armed terrorist organization, propagandizing for a terrorist organization and praising the crime and the criminal."

Receiving 490,507 votes (62.93 percent) in the last local elections on March 31, 2019, Mızraklı was elected the Metropolitan Co-Mayor of Diyarbakır.

About Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı

Physician and politician. He was elected mayor of Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the local elections on March 31, 2019. He was dismissed from his post on August 19, 2019, and was replaced with a trustee. Mızraklı served as an MP from the HDP between June 2018 and March 2019. He held various positions at the Diyarbakır Chamber of Medicine, including the chairpersonship. He is the founding chairperson and a board member of the Mesopotamia Foundation. He was born in 1963 in Siverek, Urfa in southeastern Turkey. He is currently held at Bünyan Prison.