Unless Ayşe Teacher’s sentence is suspended, she will give birth in prison. Despite everything, Ayşe Teacher stands by what she said on television. She condemns conflict that leads to the death of children in the world. Recalling the lines of Nâzım Hikmet’s poem “The Girl Child,” she says, “Let children not be killed; Let them, too, be able to eat sweets.” She has the following to say about the child she is expecting, “Of course, I wanted to bring my child into the world under better conditions and as I had planned. I am ashamed of unconscionable, tyrannical and wicked humanity for the unjust world I inhabit and for having been left in such a position.” Ayşe Çelik told our newspaper what she has been through since the ruling upholding her sentence.
My future is uncertain
-Can you tell us about Ayşe Teacher? What are you doing at the moment?
It is a bit hard to speak about Ayşe Teacher anymore, because she is no longer a teacher, but if I need to reply as an ordinary Ayşe, I was living a detached, modest life distant from the educational creche and innocent children I loved greatly up until the totally unconscionable decision passed against me based on the reading of intentions. As for now, the upshot of this decision that has been taken is that I cannot do anything except nervously await an uncertain future into which others have pushed me without knowing what awaits me.
At all times and in all places
-What has changed in your life since you phoned in to the live programme?
While on the programme, with me making innocent comments guided entirely by my conscience aimed at drawing attention to the psychological impact of events I had experienced, the negative results of the conflict and the resulting human drama, and with me getting positive reactions from the people listening to me at that moment, it engendered the feeling that I was doing something right. But, with my pronouncements being contorted by certain media outlets to serve their own interests, my life was turned upside down. I cut my ties with the educational creche that I loved greatly and was torn away from the children. Although totally innocent, I came under social pressure and faced mob fury.
-Did you think it could be a crime to say, “Let children not die?”
I did not, and I still don’t. As somebody who is about to be a mother in less than one month’s time, I repeat these pronouncements at all times and in all places. I do not support any child dying or being killed, whatever the reason, without drawing a distinction between one child and another. I do not even want a single child’s toenail to be harmed. If it is a crime to say let children not die, I imagine there is nobody in the world who does not commit this crime, because nobody who has a conscience would want children to die.
-What did you feel when the judges sentenced you to one year and three months?
I laughed. At first, I thought I hadn’t taken it in correctly. But, when the reasons for the decision were read in my presence, I felt a pang in my heart. I said this decision cannot and should not be true. A bit later, I underwent shock. I asked myself repeatedly if there could be a punishment for saying let children not die. Of course, from one perspective, we had received signals that a bad decision was in the offing. But, I still harboured hope. It is a tragedy in itself for the sentence to have been upheld on world children’s day.
It didn’t occur to me
-Did you expect the Court of Cassation to uphold the decision?
No, I didn’t, because I didn’t know that it was a crime in this country to say, “Let children not die.” It didn’t occur to me that saying, “Let children not die” would be a crime anywhere at any time. I still cannot believe it. The only thing I thought about after having learnt of the decision was the place and conditions in which I would give birth to my child. I have until now as a woman, a teacher and a mother been of the side of children at all times, in all places and under all conditions. One who says, “Let mothers not weep and children not die” will probably give birth in prison.
I fear for my child
-Does the prospect of going to jail make you nervous?
Of course it does. Especially when you are innocent. Is it possible not to be nervous on the verge of becoming a mother when faced with a decision that unconscionable people have passed simply because this is dictated by the exigencies of the day? From the day I was born until today, I have acted in the endeavour to be a successful teacher who is endowed with responsibility, has a conscience and stands up against injustice. While exerting myself over how we should educate children so that future generations can be more hopeful and more successful, to be prosecuted and have the sentence upheld for giving voice to my conscience in the conscientious desire to benefit humanity ... What I am going through right now, beyond nervousness, is that I am filled with fear about having a child in such an environment where tenderness is so completely absent, rather than in a warm home in the company of its mother and father.
-Does it not make you nervous to give birth to a child in days in which children are killed or forced to grow up in prison?
Had I known that I would meet such an end, never mind giving birth, I would not even have wished to come into a wicked and unconscionable world in which justice is unable to exist in any way.
Ayşe Teacher gives another peace lesson