This is a letter written after the martyrdom of Helin Bolek, from one of Helin’s comrades.
Helin… Now it’s my turn to talk about you… It’s been a long time since the first day we met. Decades of memories in the seemingly short years, years of fighting, captivity, torture, police raids, actions. Your captivity, our indefinite hunger strike resistance, and our glorious death fast resistance, after which your martyrdom. There is so much to tell, I’m starting…
I got to know you in the days when the spring heat warms the poor neighbourhoods in Istanbul. We were in the Youth building in Okmeydanı and there was another police operation. While we were re-organizing and re-building our association after the operation, we had one ear in the Grup Yorum hearings that were seen that day. We hugged each other with the news of “Grup Yorum Released”. We were re-building our Youth building with more happiness. Yorum had come to its own house, after its imprisonment, we hugged, laughed… Of course, the mass release photograph taken in front of the Idil Cultural Center cannot be forgotten.
In the Youth association we’re making food. There’s a huge hole in the floor (from the police operation), our windows are broken, but we have a stove that works and our food is pasta…The famous door of the Youth rings. I can hear the sound from the kitchen, sounds of laughter, talking, and I’m wondering who came? I was thinking that the food isn’t going to be enough, you would always say how it’s hard to fill up the stomachs of our youth. A moment later everyone was clustered around you, you were talking about your prison memories. That was the first day that I met you, the first time we embraced each other and you squeezing my hand very tightly. You always had a warm smile on your face, and I guess anyone who talks about you will talk about this warm smile.
The days were passing by, our campaigns and work was continuing. We used to meet with each other all the time, you would talk and I would listen, you would force me to talk more and you would find a way to make people talk.
Life was plain, the struggle was simple
Problems, stresses, questions of “how will we do it,” constant “that won’t work”.
While we were drowned in these, whenever you said “why couldn’t you do it”, all the problems would start to be solved. Sometimes I would stop and watch you. How can she do so much work and solve these problems while smiling. I would see you as a superior in my eyes. Now I can grasp it more clearly, we say to think correctly. On the one hand, life was plain, fighting was simple; we were going to solve the problems, the methods of solving were obvious.
The fire of the fight in your heart, you were burning folk songs on the roofs of the poor people. On a sunny day in April in Örnektepe neighborhood, you were again at the forefront. You were chatting with the young people in the area where we were going to hold a concert, I was not going to be able to attend that concert, but I was hoping that maybe I’d have a chance. When young people asked what would happen to the concert if there was a police attack in the neighborhood, you laughed and said, “Gas bombs strengthen your vocal cords”. Suddenly the young people burst out laughing, and at that moment there was neither stress nor wondering whether the police would attack. The concert was held and the police attacked, but Grup Yorum, despite all the prohibitions, sang songs on the roofs of the shantytown houses.
You were everywhere, sister, you were organizing life with your folk songs, speeches, conversations. You were teaching while organizing, you were teaching to love your people, love your homeland, and feel the struggle within. You were doing it so naturally that you seemed to be born revolutionary. When I told you so, you would start with “If you had seen my youth” and you would start to describe your previous self in this system during your university years. Then you meet with the struggle. While I was listening to you in a bewildered manner, you would finish the sentence saying “Nobody was born a hero.”
You were motherly sister, everyone would feel safe next to you. Listening to Bünyamin from your mouth… Even people who don’t know would know Bünyamin very well with your expression. You would tell for hours, your eyes would look far away, the efforts made, the words spoken, the memories all poured out of your mouth one by one. We were walking in the same streets with you now and when I looked at you, you would say “I see Bünyamin”. I was happy, I was trying to show in my life the reward of the labor put into me. You used to tell me about how we could talk to people, how we could be patient, yes, I was impatient… I’m still impatient, but now I’m impatient to enlarge your struggle now.
Then the Cherry Blossoms
Fell to the ground
Sıla; Our most beautiful, our companion, our cherry blossom, was shot at midnight by the executioners of the darkness. With the proudness of the morning, there was not a single sound in the Youth association, we had a martyr. I saw you, you were upright again, strong again. Who knows what storms were breaking inside you. But first, we had to send off Sıla in a way befitting her name, in a way that befits our family’s name. Banners, posters, slogans, preparations. All had to be done in the best way possible. That day, all the poor districts of Istanbul bid farewell to her young daughter Sıla, accompanied by slogans, among her comrades.
Sıla, Bünyamin and many others … Captivity, martyrdom, torture, oppression…
The summer months were coming, the joyful voices of the children were filling Sibel Yalçın park. We were sitting at the same place where you would eat ice cream with Bunyamin, you was speaking about what we would do in summer, you were singing songs from the soon to be released Yorum album,
“Did you ever see a righteous cruel?
When no-one calls to account
One of our wings are broken
When You Don’t Fight “
We used to say struggle no matter what, sister, we will say struggle no matter what. I got to know you in the struggle and I say struggle no matter what. Everyone who knows you in our big family now says struggle no matter what with what you left behind.
CAPTIVITY IN STRUGGLE IS OUR ACCEPTANCE, FREE CAPTIVITY IS OUR HONOUR
Captivity entered between us. They say do not trust those who are rotten to the core. July 31, 2017 is in my mind like yesterday. At noon, we were detained with the operation carried out to our youth building and Berkan Abatay Sports Center, then we were imprisoned.
You then came out of the dungeons of persecution as a death fast resister and justice fighter.
In the first letter I received during your captivity, you came with lines from Hasan Hüseyin and with the hello from sister Helin, the letter was warm because your hand, the hand of a comrade had touched it.
“For now, even if it’s a spring wind
A scented snow flower
We said hello to friends
Hello with the sprouting storm “
Even in your letters you were teaching, Helin sister. You were making me read and write. Poems, book quotes, reviews, laughter that doesn’t fit into the envelope of a letter. Every time I read your letter, it was as if I was reading in your voice. Your voice is still in my ears as I write this article.
17 May 2019 was going to be written into the books of history, and you had the pen in your hand. Now the turn was yours sister Helin, like we always talked, you said that when it was your turn you would throw up all the grudge to the faces of the tyrants. Now your indefinite hunger strike resistance started.
You were starving your bodies for Bread, Justice and Freedom. We were going to the days which I read the stories and the epics of, when I read books about it I got goosebumps, and my eyes were still burning with hatred and anger, this period was going to a death fast.
“From the bosom of pain
anger that bursts like blue steel
It will surely change the world
New life will reinvent itself
in the hands that protect it.”
We had spoken to you several times after the release, and since those days I remembered your face, your smile, your gaze full of faith and determination. The end of this road was either martyrdom or our demands would be met.
You were saying that it’s as if you hadn’t been hungry for days, you were still humble and hardworking sister.
You were saying, “My knees only hurt when I walked.” Then you added, “It was already aching before the resistance,” and you laughed. You said “I slept less” and then you said “I slept less before the resistance.” You were sowing hope to the person who came to you, you were a continuation of a tradition and you carried this flag with honor.
We had spoken to you on the day the Resistance House was to open, you were overwhelmed with joy. Armutlu is the neighborhood which you showed me around and which you told me about its history. Sevgi Erdoğan, Gülsuman Dönmez and Zehra Kulaksız were martyred there, now you were becoming its bride.
Armutlu neighbourhood was a witness to heroism and epics… Grup Yorum, who burned resistance folk songs years ago and wrote the folk songs of the epic, was now becoming its own folk song for Armutlu.
You were always ahead of us, Helin sister, always. With your life, what you teach, your motherhood, your labor, your hard work, I don’t know if I should count more. If you were with me now, you would say “You make us look like heroes”, you became our hero, sister, yes, you became the hero of the struggle.
With your hunger in the struggle for justice all over the world, you have shown once again that you can die, for honor, for justice, against those who strive to live. You sang the song of resistance to deaf ears this time.
“First you write, then you create, then you become a poem yourself” said Çiğdem sister. Now you’re a poem of resistance, now you’re a scream of rebellion in the middle of Istanbul,
The resistance is growing, don’t worry sister, brother Ozgur, sister Didem, brother İbrahim, Mustafa, sister Ebru, brother Aytaç… It will grow even more, the spark you burned will burn everywhere. Now you are looking at us through our carnations and still not letting go of control. We will enlarge the struggle, I will bring to life what you taught me. And before I forget, I will always talk about you with laughter.
With your memories, with what you left us, you are our pioneer, our hero.
I bow respectfully before your memory, hug Sıla and Bünyamin tightly.
My sister, my comrade, my hero, see you on the day when we will sing our songs and dance together.