How to Target a Family? Turkey’s Crackdown Shows It.

The tragedy of Ozcerit family reveals the obsession of Turkish authorities with certain segments of society. They simply target for no reason at all. Sometimes just for intimidation.

Abdullah Ayasun

--

Ahmet Ozcerit with his family at a hospital.

Barely a year after his academic father passed away, Sinan Ozcerit, a college student in Ankara, informed his followers on Twitter on Tuesday: police detained her mother, Esra Ozcerit, and her sister, Senanur Ozcerit (19). Already reeling from the loss of father, academic Ahmet Turan Ozcerit who last year died of cancer soon after authorities allowed his release from prison when it was too late, the family plunged into a new ordeal.

The reason provided by the Turkish police might normally have been bewildering. But it is not, given that Turkey has already rendered the feeling of shock and surprise redundant.

Senanur, a freshman at a university in the western province of Sakarya, invited her friends to fast-breaking (iftar) Ramadan dinner. But she had no idea that her innocent and pious act — every Muslim invites others for iftar dinner — would land her in police custody with serious charges of terrorist organization membership. Absurd though it may sound, this has become a normal pattern in Turkey where anything could be justified for any legal action with the most absurd legal reasoning.

The iftar dinner, according to prosecutors, might be considered as sufficient enough for building a case her for ties to a terrorist organization. So said, the shell-shocked Sinan, in a series of tweets to arouse public support to create awareness about the never-ending tragedy of the family.

“When my father passed away, you disturbed us by sending police to our home while we were mourning. Now, you detain my sister’s foreign friends just because she invited them to our home for a fast-breaking dinner. We have already been burned and are burning. Will you burn everyone who touches us?” he tweeted. He was aghast when he first received the news. But his bafflement only deepened over police’s interrogation of her sister.

--

--

Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun