Every sentence of a letter written by Şukriye Erden, a lawyer in pretrial detention at Karabük T-Type Prison, was censored by prison authorities, tweeted Turkish journalist Gökçer Tahincioğlu, who said that “a letter was sent by jailed lawyer Şükriye Erden from Karabük T-Type Prison. According to the censorship authorities there is not one harmless word [in her letter].”
Erden, who is affiliated with the left-leaning People’s Law Office (HHB), was arrested in September 2017 together with 15 of her colleagues on charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organisation.” Erden was one of the lawyers representing Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two educators who staged a lengthy hunger strike after being fired from their jobs by a government decree issued under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
According to a recent report by the Brussels-based Arrested Lawyers Initiative, the Turkish government has prosecuted 1,539 lawyers, arrested 580 and sentenced 103 to long prison terms since the coup bid.
Lawyer Erden also reportedly started a one-week hunger strike after she learned that her daughter, Merve Önem, had been arrested by a Turkish court on charges of “membership in a terrorist organisation” as part of an investigation launched in 2014. Önem was arrested because she had made a phone call to lawyer Evrim Deniz Karatana during the Gezi Park protests of June 2013.
Erden, who has been in pre-trial detention for six months, stated in a letter to the Cumhuriyet daily that “my daughter’s only crime is to be the daughter of Şükriye Erden, an HHB lawyer. … They want to say that even if you show solidarity with your mother, we will punish you.”