Cayan Demirel: Prison Nr. 5 1980-84

Skrevet den 04-01-2010 17:48:27 af Tue Steen Müller

Cayan Demirel: Prison Nr. 5 1980-84

The director of the banned film ”38” (see below) touches upon another black spot in newer Turkish history with this enormously touching documentation of the horrible atrocities that took place in the Diyarbakir prison in the military coup period 1980-84. In this case he constructs his story by letting witnesses tell what they experienced as inmates who were subject to torture and all kind of humiliations. Men and women. Kurdish people but also socialists oppposed to the regime. It is actually talking faces from beginning till end, with time-for-reflection nature images and elegic music, or tableaux of shadows of prisoners on a wall or drawings made by one of the survivors. Some lawyers comment as well on the absurd prosecutions, and again pathos is the word to characterize the director’s ambition to document and interpret the emotions of the witnesses, and honour the many who were killed due to the torture, or by own hands through death fasts or burning. Let me end this strong recommendation of a film document by quoting one of the survivors (via the English subtitles):

”I was asked... did you like our guest house? At that moment you might think to say, ”yes it was great, Sir! Thank you!” And then just go away. However your honour doesn’t let you do that. I said: We were brought up in this country, we studied in this country. Before I came to this prison I was saying my country, but I could not ever think that I would live such horror in my own country. You are calling this ”a guest house”, you put us through such horrible situations that even animals should not be put in! Forget you identity, you destroyed our personalities... I have become an enemy to this state as I am leaving this place now.”

Many (this is not in the film) think that what happened in the Diyarbakır prison in 1980-84 gave the fundament to PKK. The government plans to close the prison, many think it should be kept as a museum. The torturers and their superiors have not been prosecuted. 

Turkey, 2009, 97 mins.

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