Peter Steudtner was detained along with nine others in July during a workshop in Istanbul, where he and Ali Gharavi were training human rights defenders on wellbeing and digital security. Among the attendees was Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. Currently eight of them remain in prison and two are on bail, all facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. They have done nothing wrong.
Peter has written a message from his cell about coping with life in prison:
“To all who accompany me in thought and deed!
A wholehearted thankyou to all who support us, especially to my family and friends (and all who support them), to the German government, Ministries, Embassy, Consulate; to my legal team, and to my holistic security team, HIVOS + KURVE Wustrow, to all political campaigns that demand our release!
As I do not have any contact anymore with Ali and the other human rights defenders, I am writing this letter on my behalf only.
[In July] I was arrested and since 1 August I have been in Silivri prison in Turkey. Now, I am sharing a three-person cell with a young Turkish detainee. We have one bedroom, one community room and our own courtyard of 28m2. The prison guards usually treat us in a respectful and friendly way. The food is good and sufficient. We get books through our lawyers and the embassy/consulate!
Thus I can say that externally, and mostly also internally, I am doing fine. However, this is also hard work, our detention is a clear violation of international human rights law and the extreme limitation on communication is hard: once a week for 1 hour with our great lawyers, and only 10 minutes every other week by phone with our families.
In all this, it helps to know that many people are thinking of me and of us. Every evening at 6pm Berlin time, in parallel with our friends in the Gethsemane Church, I am sitting in the courtyard singing loudly! This is so soothing! Even my cellmates already know the songs by now!
Everyday life in prison takes place between the opening of the courtyard at 8am and the locking of the cells at 8pm: inspection of attendance, searching the cells, doing our laundry, cleaning the cell, playing chess and backgammon (both self-made boards).
Then, in the evenings, we continue playing games and talking, writing diaries and, of course, progressive muscle relaxation every morning and late evening, so that I don‘t get cabin fever and so that the uncertainty-induced stress does not take over. Other than that, it‘s only chasing mosquitos that helps!
It’s important to me that the political and legal responsibility for our situation isn‘t placed on Turkey as a country or its people. We experience a lot of solidarity through our Turkish legal team and the interreligious dialogue with my Muslim roommate.
Those who know me know that there is a saying that carries me: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!
In this spirit, let us walk the non-violent path of human rights together!
With deep gratitude and strength,
LEARN MORE about the detention of the Istanbul 10
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