BİRGÜN / ANKARA
36 years ago today, 17 year revolutionary student Erdal Eren was hung by military officials that led the September 12 coup of 1980.
Erdal Eren was arrested during one of the student protests that were widely held across Turkey before the coup. During the march held in February 1980 to protest the killing of Sinan Suner – a student of METU and a member of Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Association – by the security guard (Süleyman Ezendemir) of then minister from MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) Cengiz Gökçek, a noncom soldier was shot dead in the crowd as a result of clashes. In connection to the killing of the young soldier Zekeriya Önge, 24 students, along with Erdal Eren, were arrested. Eren was then charged with murdering Önge.
Though Eren was 17 years old, his age was marked down by military regime as 18 in order for his execution to be legal. His execution was carried out also despite counter-evidence in his case.
Today, on the 36th anniversary of his execution, Eren was commemorated in Ankara by a group of young students and civil society representatives.
Speaking on behalf of the group holding the demonstration, Özgür Polat, member of the Youth of Labor, said: “Those who slaughtered Erdal that day are now trying to run this country under state of emergency and with decrees. They cannot scare us with emergency rules, decrees, and bombs. We do not give up in the face of darkness. We get our strength from people like Erdal Eren, who stood up straight against oppression. We are not going to forget him and we are never going to have fear!
Erdal Eren’s last letter, written to his family
“My dear mother, father, and siblings. Heartful love and respect to you all! I have not been able to write to you a nice letter until now. Also, we didn’t have much time to speak, either. We had not talked to each other in a mutually understanding way while I was not jailed, either. (In this regard, I acted quite wrong towards you. But I don’t want you to think that this was because I did not respect you).
So, I have a lot to talk about and tell you but that is not possible now. I will try to explain my thoughts with this letter. I can imagine how you might feel right now. But I say this very clearly that my morale is very good and I don’t fear death. I know quite well that this case will most probably result in my death. Nevertheless, I don’t feel fearful, hopeless, or, pessimistic and I feel honored to be a revolutionary and to have taken part in the fight. I think and act like this because I believe in the public and the Revolution.
When I say I am not afraid to die, it should not be understood as though I am tired of living or I don’t want to live. Of course, I desire to live and continue on the fight. However, if death is before me, I have to not fear it and face it with courage.
As you know, this punishment is not given for the crime that I am claimed of having committed. The main aim here is to prevent the fight and to create intimidation with this. For this reason, they gave this punishment knowing they are actually violating their own laws, as you also know.
In prison, (I guess you would learn in detail what happened) we are groaned under inhuman cruelty. I’ve seen such vile and brutal things that living in these days has become torture in itself So, under such circumstances, death has become not a source of fear but rather something desired, as salvation. In such a situation, one can easyly commit suicide. But I’m using my volition, no matter what happens, to continue on living: and, even knowing that I will be killed eventually.
I am telling you these because I do not want you to misunderstand me and think that I don’t realize the seriousness of the matter. All of this made me thousand times angrier and fueled my ambition to fight. It could not shatter my faith for the Revolution and the public. I have no other purpose other than believing in the public and raising and carrying out the fight the best way I can.
The issue is like this from my point, briefly. But I know it is different and more difficult for you. The love between the mother, father and their children is really strong and not easily lost. And, I know how you will feel losing a child. But no matter how difficult, I want you to leave the emotional aspects aside. I want you know and accept that you have thousands of children. Many more of them will be murdered but they will not dissipate. The fight will go on and they will live on within that fight. I want you to know it like this and to give effort to understand it better.
If you cry after me, as if, I was a miserable and powerless person, that will hurt me. The more powerful and brave you are about this, the more you will make me happy. I wish all of you a free and happy life.
Your Son ERDAL”