Müzeyyen Yüce/ DUVAR

Following his release from prison after 490 days, former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Eren Erdem said that the purpose of current jailing tactic of the government is “to isolate and demoralize” people. “Those with a weak political stance might be afraid”, Erdem told in an interview with Gazete Duvar.

“In violation of constitutional law, I stayed alone in an 8-square-meter cell for 490 days. They want to isolate and demoralize you. Those with a weak political stance might be afraid but they cannot terrorize me with pressure. For the first six months I experienced serious pressure, and I started and ended a hunger strike. But later I broke through this pressure and began to fight, because prison is not a place to rest on one’s laurels,” Erdem said.

The former CHP deputy was arrested in June of 2018 on terrorism charges. Though previously a parliamentarian, Erdem was not nominated by his party in the elections of that year, thereby depriving him of parliamentary immunity and paving the way for his arrest. 

Read 350 books, wrote 200 poems and two scripts

Erdem said that during his time in jail, he slept seven hours a night while remaining awake for the remaining 17 hours, adding that he read 350 books, wrote 200 poems, and wrote scripts for two feature-length films during his 490-day prison stint.

In response to whether or not he felt that he was left alone by his party, Erdem denied the implication: 

“I met regularly with [CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s] lawyers and the lawyers from my party. There is no way that someone from the CHP who is above all paying the price for being from the CHP would be left alone,” Erdem said. 

“It wasn’t because I wasn’t added to the CHP’s election list, it is due to the fact that there is no justice in Turkey that I was imprisoned,” Erdem added. 

Eren Erdem speaking to Duvar’s Müzeyyen Yüce in Ankara. November 2019

“I would prefer being in jail here to fancy sidewalks of the Champs Elysees”

Erdem, who is in early 30’s and the father of a young son, emphasized that he did not want his son to consider his country as his enemy. 

“My son only came to visit me in jail once. I didn’t want him to see this environment, and I didn’t want him to consider this country as an enemy. If I could compare the fancy sidewalks of the Champs Elysees to the prisons of my country, of course I would prefer to stay in jail on my own land, because we are the children of this land,” Erdem said. 

Erdem intends to travel the country from side to side as part of a social project that he devised while imprisoned.