16 April 2014, Wednesday
Today's Zaman

Now released from prison, Berivan wants to go to school

8 September 2010, Wednesday /EMINE DOLMACI
Berivan S., who was recently released from the jail where she had been imprisoned for participating in an illegal demonstration in Batman province, has one final wish now that she has been reunited with her family: to go back to school.

Legal reform resulted in the release of Berivan, a minor, at the end of July, when she was allowed to return to her family. But she has another wish that she wants fulfilled: The young girl is calling on members of the government, including the prime minister and education minister, to find a way for her to return to school despite her family’s economically difficult situation.

When Berivan wrote a letter from the E-type prison in Diyarbakır where she was incarcerated, she became the poster child for all minors imprisoned for rock throwing. In her letter the girl, who was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for participating in an illegal demonstration in Batman, said: “I’m always crying here, I haven’t gotten used to it at all. I’m so sad. I want to be near my family. I want to leave this place and go to school.”

Berivan is one of many underage inmates imprisoned for throwing rocks who were freed when Parliament approved legislative changes to counterterrorism laws. Following her release Berivan traveled to Batman and began living with her family again -- so the first part of her wish has been fulfilled, but the other half still remains. She left elementary school in the second grade, but completed the seventh grade through distance education and now wants to continue with her schooling. She hopes to enroll in the eighth grade in Batman, but her situation is complicated due to her father’s unemployment and the family’s scarcity of financial resources.

‘If the prime minister helps me, he’ll go to heaven’

Berivan was released in July after nine months in prison -- and now that her family isn’t sending her to school, she’s waiting for a helping hand. “I want to go to school, but we still haven’t been able to register. Since we don’t have any money, we still haven’t done it, but I’m waiting to,” she says. The young girl issued a call to statesmen -- especially Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan -- to help. She finished the seventh grade while in prison, but says she needs help to continue. “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or the education minister, Nimet Çubukçu, should help me. If they do this, they’ll have done a really great deed. They’ll go to heaven,” the girl said.

Berivan’s father, Selim S., says the family wants to enroll her in school, but that they are not sure whether they will be able to because of their economic situation. “It’s hard to send your children to school when you cannot afford it. But if someone is ready to help us out, then I will definitely educate my child.

We’re waiting for someone to help us,” he explained. Berivan has seven siblings; her younger siblings, İsmail and Suzan, are in the fifth and sixth grades, respectively. Her sister Dilan has finished the eighth grade.

Family to move from İstanbul to Batman

Berivan’s family migrated to İstanbul from Batman seven years ago and has encountered great difficulties. The family first moved from Şırnak’s İdil district to Aydınkavak village in Batman, and after 13 years moved to İstanbul. Berivan’s experience was a great blow to a family already suffering misfortune. While the father and three eldest children lived in İstanbul’s Yenibosna district when Berivan was imprisoned in Diyarbakır, her mother, Meryem, and three younger siblings returned to live in Batman. Her father, who worked as day laborer when he could find work, wants the entire family to move back to Batman now. “We’re thinking of moving after Eid al-Fitr,” he says, noting that when his daughter was released he went to Batman immediately but was unable to find any employment and so has been unable to work since then.

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