Exclusive interview with comrade Eda on her 15th day of open hunger strike

Since 18 March 2023, the international day of political prisoners, Eda Deniz Haydaroglu, 22, a member of the revolutionary youth organization Föderation der Revolutionären Jugend der Türkei, is waging an open hunger strike for justice in Berlin, Germany.

Several events are being organized as part of the hunger strike. Click here to view the program and download the flyer of the campaign against “paragraph 129,” a law in Germany that has been used to target and repress leftist and revolutionary organizations.

As part of the “Down with Paragraph 129” committee, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network supports Eda in her hunger strike and demands. On 01.04.2023 we participated in the daily organized vigil in front of the Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin and conducted an interview with Eda.

We invite all free people and organized forces to support our comrades in their struggle for justice. Invite them to your actions and seminars, and give publicity to their brave struggle: ozgulihsanserkan129@gmx.de

Read our interview below:

Hello Eda! Could you tell us why you are all gathered here today?

Today we are in front of the Federal Ministry of Justice to demand justice! We are on hunger strike and have clear demands that the authorities must respond to. Our comrades were unjustly arrested on the basis of paragraph 129b and we want to draw people’s attention to this injustice and create publicity. That is why we have gathered here.

Who is on hunger strike today? And what are your demands?

I and my comrade Befin Özder have been on hunger strike [for 15 days] since the 18th of March 2023, Political Prisoners Day. I am on an indefinite hunger strike and Berfin is on hunger strike for 30 days. Several comrades from Austria, Greece, Belgium and Netherlands are on hunger strike for 10, 7 or 3 days. In addition, two Grup YORUM band members are on hunger strike for 10 days. On March 18, the Day of Political Prisoners, hundreds of people from all over Europe have also made a one-day hunger strike.

We all demand the same thing: justice!

Our concrete demands are as follows:

*All 4 imprisoned comrades: Özgül Emre, Ihsan Cibelik, Serkan Küpeli and Hasan Unutan, were imprisoned on the basis of paragraphs 129 a and b of the Criminal Code. The charge is membership of a so-called “foreign terrorist organization”. For several years, opposition figures in Germany who actively campaign against fascist rule in Turkey have been persecuted and criminalized via diplomatic demands. Turkey regularly transmits lists of opposition members, who are to be pursued here, and the 4 now imprisoned anti-fascists were on these lists. The German Government uses for this persecution the paragraph 129b, which is highly dangerous. It is a relic of the Nazi era and a direct successor to the National Socialist treason law. The Allies had banned the law, but it was reinstated in the course of the 1st Criminal Law Amendment Act in order to “prevent Nazis from gaining strength”. In reality, through these paragraphs, however, it is mainly opposition members from Turkey who are persecuted and imprisoned. We demand that the Nazi paragraphs 129 a and b of the criminal code be discussed, questioned and deleted from the law. For prosecution of terror crimes the criminal law has all necessary means, it needs no „Gesinnungsjustiz“ a sort of political influence of certain beliefs, which is a relic of the Nazi era!

*The 4 imprisoned anti-fascists have valid addresses in Germany. All of them were also arrested in their respective homes. Serkan Küpeli is married, a student in Hamburg and was arrested 15 days after the birth of his first child. Hasan Unutan is also married, owns an advertising company in Mannheim and is the father of 3 children. They are all fully involved in public life, their political activities are announced days in advance on the internet, they have regular medical and official appointments that they attend, only to name a few. The danger of flight claimed by the prosecution is therefore vague and no reason to keep these people in detention for almost a year in unspecified conditions. Pre-trial detention is a last resort and may only be used if no milder means are suitable. We demand that the pre-trial detention be lifted for the reasons stated and that the trial be continued with them released.

*The Attorney General Peter Frank signed the arrest warrants against the imprisoned anti-fascists. A short time later, he flew to Turkey by invitation and met, among others, with the Minister of Justice and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and was honored there. We demand that it be explained what Peter Frank was doing in Turkey, what he discussed with Erdogan and the others and what he was honored for in Turkey? We would like to know whether Peter Frank was honored for the persecution of opposition figures from Turkey in Germany.

*The persecution of Turkish anti-fascists in Germany is based on reports from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This scandal-ridden authority, which was deeply involved in the NSU crimes [a series of racist attacks by neo-Nazis] and repeatedly attracts attention with scandals related to fascist sentiments, has no legitimacy in the persecution of anti-fascists. These reports from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution serve as preliminary criminalization, are treated as facts by authorities and any repression is justified with these reports. This approach is an attack on the rule of law, since in a constitutional state, courts not secret services decide who has committed a crime. We demand that the presumption of innocence once again take center stage and that reports from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are not to be used as facts.

*For some time now, digital files have repeatedly been used as evidence in political proceedings in Germany. This approach sometimes makes for scandalous legal rulings. Digital files are in their basic nature exposed to any form of modification, rewriting, deletion, etc.. With the current state of technology, it is almost impossible to determine clearly whether digital files are reputable and credible, or whether they have been altered in regards to political interests. In Germany, however, an overall assessment is sufficient. This means that the judge decides whether or not to accept a piece of evidence. This is also an attack on our rights, because there is no longer any legal certainty here. We are deprived of the possibility to legally defend ourselves in case of doubt against modified or newly written digital files, because everything is at the discretion of a judge. We therefore demand that digital files are not cited as evidence in political proceedings, since political interests always harbor the risk of abuse and there is no way to effectively eliminate this risk.

Paragraph 129b is marketed as an instrument of protection against terrorism, but how is it applied in reality?

In short, this paragraph serves as an instrument to destroy the anti-fascist and revolutionary struggle. The paragraph attacks all our democratic rights and freedoms. It is nothing but legal injustice.

Who are the four imprisoned comrades? What are their charges and what evidence did the state use to arrest them?

Özgül Emre was born in Germany but grew up in Turkey surrounded by revolutionaries. She witnessed the class differences in Turkey at an early age and saw the repressions against revolutionaries such as torture and killings in the open streets. Her uncle is one of the people who was murdered by the Turkish police. At the age of 14, she decided to join the anti-fascist revolutionary struggle. She also witnessed torture and was detained several times. She worked as an anti-fascist journalist for the magazine Kurtuluş. However after some time, she had to go to Europe because she was persecuted in Turkey and put on terror lists. But even in Europe and in Germany, where she got a political asylum, she continued to do political work against fascism. She has co-organized concerts, rallies, and demos against AKP fascism and racism in Germany and worldwide. She was also involved in anti-drug work in Germany and continued to work in Germany as a journalist for the World Home Newspaper from Baden-Württemberg.

Ihsan Cibelik is one of the veteran band members of the revolutionary anti-fascist musical group Grup Yorum, which was founded in 1985 and is known for its anti-fascist revolutionary music. Grup Yorum has faced repression both in Turkey and around the world and even in Germany. Ihsan has had to emigrate to Europe because of persecution and being put on bounty lists in Turkey. He has continued to do anti-fascist work in Europe and in Germany as a band member of Grup Yorum.

Serkan Küpeli was born and raised in Germany, where he met revolutionaries and anti-fascists in cultural associations. At a young age, he joined the anti-fascist struggle by co-organizing rallies, demos and also concerts of Grup Yorum and mobilized for and participated in these events. Shortly before his arrest, he became a father. His child was just 14 days old when he was arrested.

Hasan Unutan was born in Turkey and grew up in poorer circumstances. He then came to Europe for various reasons and got married and had children here in Germany. He is known in his surroundings as a friend of revolutionaries, Grup Yorum sympathizer and an anti-fascist. He has organized several rallies against AKP fascism, racism, the repression of Grup Yorum, and also commemorations for Hanau and NSU murders in Germany. He then participated in many Grup Yorum concerts and also mobilized for them.

The indictment of the four comrades does not mention much more than I did. The “evidence” used by the state in the four cases is the participation and organization of authorized officially conducted rallies, demos, concerts, and events such as weddings, engagements or funeral ceremonies. Specifically, these are concerts by Grup Yorum and, in particular, the 2014 concert in the König Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, in which 15,000 people participated. The concert was organized under the motto “one heart and one voice against racism”.

The participation in an engagement used as “evidence”, is that of two Grup Yorum members in December 2021. Özgül Emre presented the engagement rings to the couple, which the state used to suggest that she is a cadre of a terrorist organization. The funeral ceremony used, is that of Birsen Kars, who died in February 2022. All four of them attended it and Özgül Emre carried Birsen’s coffin.

What is striking about Hasan Unutan is that his indictment, mentioned participation in the demo that we organized in Berlin on November 27, 2022. That was a demo against Paragraph 129. And Hasan Unutan is said to have participated in this demo and set up the loudspeaker system. The fact, that he used Özgül Emre’s photo as his profile picture on Facebook was also mentioned as evidence.

These are the big “crimes” and “offences” of our comrades!

You mentioned Peter Frank and that he was honored by Erdogan. Who is he and what role do the interests of Turkish reactionary forces and alignment with imperialism play in the arrest of the four comrades?

Peter Frank is the Attorney General of Germany who also ordered the arrest warrant of our four comrades at the same time. He traveled to Turkey shortly after the arrest and met with his counterpart and Erdoğan. He was honored there by the Turkish government and given a new “hit list.” We know very well that political interests are involved and we strongly believe that these interests regard the trial of revolutionaries. The federal prosecutor is the one who decides whether to continue the pre-trial detention. The decision to do so is arbitrary and based solely on political reasons.

What do the next months look like? What trials will take place and what events are you planning?

We have now started with a vigil in front of the Federal Ministry of Justice. We’ll be there from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day during the week. On Saturdays and Sundays we organize rallies in Berlin-Kreuzberg. We would like to organize a press conference in front of the Federal Ministry of Justice on April 17, where we will explain why and what we are on hunger strike for. The trial of our comrades Özgül Emre, Ihsan Cibelik and Serkan Küpeli will probably take place on April 18 in Düsseldorf.