Ayten Öztürk remains under house arrest and can't help her disabled sister in Hatay

Ayten Öztürk could not go to her disabled sister who was affected by the earthquake in Hatay because she has been kept under house arrest for about 2 years.

Ayten Öztürk, who is unlawfully kept under house arrest, cannot go to her sister, who is 90 percent disabled, who was affected by the earthquake that hit Hatay on 6 February. Öztürk, who was handed over to Turkey by the Lebanese authorities on her way to Europe from Lebanon Airport in 2018, was tortured for 6 months in a secret detention center in Ankara, spent 3.5 years in prison, twice because of the false statements by a ‘witness’ with a report of mental illness. She was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment and has been under house arrest for 627 days.

Speaking to ANF, Öztürk emphasized that her sister, who is 90 percent disabled, needed her and added that her house arrest should be lifted as soon as possible.

'90 percent disabled person stayed outside for days'

Öztürk watched the aftermath of the great earthquake that shook her hometown, Hatay, from Küçük Armutlu in Istanbul, where she is kept under house arrest. She feels the sadness of not being able to extend a helping hand to her people, family and relatives. I visited Öztürk at home. She stated that this persecution inflicted on her was at least as severe as the torture she was subjected to. Öztürk, who was born and raised in Hatay, said that their house in the neighbourhood of Harbiye was badly damaged in the earthquake, and added that her sister, who is 90 percent disabled, stayed on the street with her brother for days.

Stating that she learned about the earthquake from her sister, Öztürk said: “I learned that there was an earthquake two hours after it happened. My sister called and said 'Do not be afraid, we are alive, there is an earthquake, we are safe.' Then I couldn't hear from her because there was no network. I tried to call the acquaintances but couldn’t do it. I couldn't reach anyone. I was able to reconnect later, but we spoke briefly. My brother and sister were in a panic and couldn't go inside because the house was damaged and shaking all the time. But because I am under house arrest, they actually didn't explain the situation to me at first. Later, I learned that they were outside.”

'My sister needs to be in hospital'

Öztürk said that her sister and brother eventually stayed in a provisional shelter they made up with sheets. Öztürk said that her sister should be hospitalized, but she didn’t go to hospital because she did not trust field hospitals. “In the first days of the earthquake, I told her to go to my sister in Mersin, but the landlord threatened to increase the rent if she didn’t leave, so my sister had to return to Hatay."

'My hands are tied '

Expressing that her sister asked her for help for the first time in all these years, Öztürk said: “I applied to the People's Power committees. A tent was brought to my brother by AFAD. A new tent was also brought for my sister."

Öztürk said that her hands were tied because she was under house arrest. She added that she tried to help from Istanbul, by phone. She tried to help father and son Ayhan and Ali Haydar Öztürk (not related to her), who were under the rubble. “We tried very hard to save them, but AFAD teams came too late and left without removing them because they heard the sound of a baby from another wreckage, and unfortunately they did not survive."

The woman said that she filed a petition for the abolition of house arrest through her lawyer, but she has received no answer yet. Öztürk said: “There is a disaster situation, but I can't even go to my family. My sister's life is at risk and she needs care. But I cannot be with my sister, who is unable to walk and cannot meet her needs, while the risk of epidemic disease is bigger in Hatay. I can’t do anything. They are taking revenge on me for not speaking during the torture. This cruelty is unacceptable.”