by Gordon Taylor | 4/17/2008 07:30:00 PM

I didn't want to publish it at first. I was, frankly, being too sensitive. But by now the image has been all over the world: and who am I to hide from reality? Demonstrators in virtually every European nation have put this photo on banners or in websites by the score, and the nondescript name "Cuneyt Ertus" (joo-nate air-toosh) now gets Google hits in the thousands. The boy has been discharged from prison, and the pro-Kurdish/pro-PKK news services have all published interviews with him. His experience is exactly as one would have expected -- fear,confusion, brutality, and pain -- but it bears repeating. And still there is no one in the mainstream Turkish or American media that has paid the least attention.

The most extensive interview is here, with a photo of "C.E." (his face obscured) and his father Hussein. Cuneyt, who still cannot use his right arm, showed great emotion as he recounted the events. "On March 22," said Cuneyt, "I went down to the market. I didn't know that Newroz events were going on, and I found myself in all this confusion. The police came right to me and collared me. Three policemen. Then they started manhandling me. First they twisted my arm. My arm went out of place [dislocated]. Then they took me to the Emniyet headquarters in a police vehicle. In the van they continued beating me; 3 or 4 of us were riding together. Inside the vehicle they called us "kufur" [infidels: an insult] and continued to hit us." At the station, Cuneyt recounts, the beating continued with kicks and truncheons aimed at the genitals.

And so it continued. At the station, for hours, the detainees were all kicked, beaten, and insulted. "Apo's [Abdullah Ocalan's] bastards" was one of the more choice insults, along with the opinion that they were no better than "filthy infidels." After the first day's interrogation Cuneyt was let go. "I couldn't sleep," he said, "from the pain in my arm." The very next day, however, while in the center of town again [For God's sake, Cuneyt, why did you go there?--g.t.], Cuneyt was again arrested, taken to the Emniyet and beaten. "They showed us their guns. Then before our eyes, they took the bullets out of their magazines, put them between the fingers of our hands, and then crushed our hands around them. That was extremely painful." From the Hakkari Emniyet, Cuneyt was transported to a prison in Bitlis, a city many miles away. Still he could not escape the beatings. His dislocated arm kept him in excruciating pain. No one was allowed to see him, neither aid workers nor his family nor lawyers. His fellow prisoners, he says, could see what pain he was in and tried to help him, but they could do nothing to stop it. Meanwhile, the casual beatings continued. "In prison from time to time they would let us out into the fresh air. Both going out and coming in they would hit us," Cuneyt says. "They treated us like animals."

While very happy to be reunited with his son, Huseyin Ertus is, as one might expect, outraged at the treatment he received. "My son is very young," Huseyin noted, "and he committed no crime at all. And yet, in plain view of everyone, they turned him around and broke his arm. This is a disgrace to humanity...There is no excuse for it at all." Cuneyt's father, meanwhile, is quite worried about the injuries he has received. He will be searching for treatment. In the published photographs Cuneyt is shown with no cast, sling, or bandages of any kind on his arm. "My humanity," said Huseyin Ertus, "tells me that no one should have to go through this kind of pain."

The facts are plain for all to see, yet of course the Turkish government will deny them, if they even deign to acknowledge the case. As for the U.S. government, we know them well enough. Turkey, after all, is "a vital partner in the War Against Terror."

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Anonymous Anonymous on 4/18/2008 1:31 AM:

A vital partner in the War Against Terror. Indeed:)
I am still waiting for a Michael Moore styled "Buyukinit and Me" documentary. These Turkish fascists ridicule themselves. A movie like this would practically film itself. Let me conclude this comment with a quote.

"Why do we mock? Because humor is the most potent weapon of the
Rev. Carter LeBlanc, Church of the SubGenius.


Anonymous Anonymous on 4/18/2008 4:30 PM:

I am truly astonished by your heart and knowledge Mr Taylor. It always comes as an suprise when a "westener" takes an interest for the Kurds and Kurdistan. Your writing is more important than you might imagen. I wish I had the honour to know you personally.

/"A Kurdish fan from Sweden"


Blogger Gordon Taylor on 4/19/2008 2:16 AM:

Anonymous Isvecli:

Thank you for the comment. I think I know very little about Kurds, Kurdistan, Anatolia, Turks, Turkey, etc. Every time I stay up late translating a newspaper article, I learn a little more.

I should clarify some things:

1) I do not intend to be taken as an advocate for the Kurds. The Kurds are perfectly capable of advocating for themselves. I want to be an advocate for reality.

2) By the same token, I certainly do not want to be taken as an enemy of the Turks. The mothers of dead soldiers arouse my sympathy just as much as do those of the PKK. I have paid tribute numerous times to Turkey's dissident intellectuals, who certainly are as brave as any group in the world. And no one can deny the enormous strides that the people of Turkey have taken in education, business, and the arts.

3) I can say what I say because I am such a minor individual. I have nothing to lose: no media platform, no official position, no tenure at any university. I'm a bus driver. I've been a bus driver for 27 years. The Turkish government can't do anything to retaliate against a bus driver. When your image among the general public is either (a) a faceless cipher, or (b) Ralph Kramden, you know you're truly on the road to anonymity.

So I may as well tell the truth. And the truth about Turkey is so blatant, so obvious, that anyone can point it out. It just takes a little effort.


Anonymous Anonymous on 4/19/2008 4:52 PM:

Please, dear Gordon, don't "belittle" so much yourself and your work for the sake of truth .

As have said my Swedish brother, I want to tell you again that "your writing is more important than you might imagine".
And when you say "I do not intend to be taken as an advocate for the Kurds. I want to be an advocate for reality." that's better for us than if you had said:"I'm an advocate for the Kurds".
And maybe "the truth about Turkey is so blatant, so obvious" as you say but "evil ill-intentioned" or "ignorant" (since Turkish state's brainwashing) people are so numerous that your refreshing words are very useful and heal lots of our pains.

Thank you (again) for this.

PS: how are you historian AND bus-driver?
Can you tell me please?

Elîshêr from France


Blogger Gordon Taylor on 4/19/2008 6:58 PM:

Cher Elisher,

I am a writer first and an historian second. I write because I must. Only writing fully occupies my mind and takes me out of myself.

I am a bus driver because everyone has to pay the rent. Very few artists can live from their work. That's why all artists (in America anyway) talk about their "day jobs." This is my day job. I write at night, and sometimes on the job--during break times, and even at red lights if an idea comes to me. I'm now working on a book called "The Big Window"--because that's what the windshield of a bus is: a very big window.


Anonymous Anonymous on 4/21/2008 6:44 PM:

I'm very pleased that you are a bus-driver! (I'm not totally joking...)

Keep up the work,
Bon courage!
(well said your "cher", dear friend)