The sad saga of a South Korean woman in Turkey

The terrible ordeal South Korean Suhyun Kim has been experiencing in Turkey since her Turkish husband Handuseyin Korkmaz, a police chief, was jailed on trumped up charges in a government-orchestrated judicial sham more than 10 months ago tells the tale of a courageous young woman with strong convictions and faith who stands by her man during difficult times and challenging conditions.
The first time I caught a glimpse of this woman was on a short TV segment when she and her newborn baby girl, Dilruba, were waiting impatiently in front of the courthouse, standing vigil in a show of support for their loved one who was brought in for an arraignment hearing. They have been robbed of precious time with a loving husband and caring father by crooked Turkish officials who are afraid to go to court to respond to charges in the largest-ever corruption investigation in the Turkish Republicand’s history, a scandal that saw the dismissal of four Cabinet ministers. Suhyun, who also uses her adopted Turkish name Leyla, was unjustly denied access to her husband for an entire month after his detention, despite the fact that she has the legal right to visit her husband. Yet authorities treated her as a foreigner in her second home and refused to grant her permission to see Handuseyin. A month later and with pressure from her lawyers, she was finally given permission from the Ministry of Justice on a special basis.
It is amazing that despite the terrible ordeal she has been going through and her bleeding heart, Suhyun always appeared smiling just like any other cheerful South Korean woman. She was strong and steadfast. In several interviews with national dailies and TV networks, she repeated her strong belief that one day the truth would prevail and her husband would be released, while those who perpetrated these injustices against her husband and his colleagues would be held accountable for what they did. Perhaps in her mind Suhyun was contrasting what she witnessed in Turkey with what she knew back in her homeland, where officials who are exposed for taking even small bribes are immediately sacked and investigators who uncover thievery and corruption are rewarded. As an Asian, she probably does not comprehend why the officials who brought shame on themselves and stained their family names would still carry on in Turkey as if these scandals had never actually happened.
Surely, this South Korean woman struggles to make sense of what on earth is going on in this country she called her new nest. As she carries the weight of unbearable pain moving along without the love of her life, Suhyun is trying to console her daughter Dilruba, whose name in Persian means beloved and one who ravishes hearts. No doubt she has been going through a tough patch in her life, but her in-laws and perhaps millions of Turks who have become familiar with her story stand by her. Her plight was featured in Turkeyand’s independent media extensively as she gave live interviews and spoke at panel discussions organized by aocacy groups that support victimsand’ rights. Suhyun always made her point clearly and concisely: Her husband did nothing wrong but was targeted for investigating senior officials who have taken millions of dollars worth of bribes to the detriment of taxpayers.
Last month, she took Dilruba to the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea, where heroic and brave soldiers from a number of nations, including a large Turkish contingent, sacrificed their lives for Korea in the 1950s. The cemetery is one of the most important historical sites connecting Turkey to South Korea today. and”As a Turk, Dilruba paid her respects and fidelity to her Turkish ancestors. As a South Korean, she has shown her gratitude to the fallen heroes,and” Suhyun told her mother while experiencing overwhelmingly powerful feelings brought on by the impossibility of having her husband standing next to her during the visit.
When I read excerpts from interviews with her husband Handuseyin, I could not help but notice that their marriage is not just a coincidence. Handuseyin shows strong moral characteristics similar to South Koreans, who cherish family, value respect, and protect honor and dignity. For example, responding to a question from a reporter, he said when the police started the investigation, he discovered at one point that senior and powerful politicians were also involved in the dragnet. He said: and”I had two choices. Either I would move forward by upholding the oath we took during our graduation ceremony after police academy and protect my honor and dignity. Or I would overlook the massive evidence of millions of dollars in graft money and therefore blacken my conscience, disrespect my family honor and stain the reputation of my children for years to come.and”
Handuseyin was closely involved in the corruption investigations that went public in December 2013 from the beginning as the deputy police chief in the Istanbul Police Department Financial Crimes Unit. He is in fact the one who wrote the police investigation file on the suspects, as well as the 309-page summary of proceedings that was sent to Parliament for the investigation of four ministers — due to broad immunity Parliament decides whether such individuals can be prosecuted. The way the case file was reported clearly reflects his intellectual capacity as well expertise in financial matters nationally and globally. For example, he and his colleagues discovered how Iranian Reza Zarrab — who laundered billions of dollars of Iranian state funds by bribing Turkish officials as part of a clandestine scheme to evade sanctions against Iran — was able to put four ministers on his take.
Those conducting the sham investigation against Handuseyin in a politically motivated revenge operation to punish him for exposing senior politicians involved in a bribery scandal did not even bother to comply with due process and fair trial procedures. While he was involved in the investigation that led to raids on suspects on Dec. 17, Handuseyin had nothing to do with the second corruption investigation revealed on Dec. 25 that exposed the illegal dealings of alleged al-Qaeda financier and Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi in Turkey in close cooperation with then-prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s son Bilal. He had neither a role in the second probe nor was there a trace of any signature on any document that linked him to the Dec. 25 investigation. Yet he was detained and later arrested pending trial on false charges that he played a role in the Dec. 25 investigation.
Handuseyin made headlines in Turkey when he shouted, and”The emperor has no clothes,and” as he was taken to court and and”I would not be a policeman if I was afraid of thieves,and” when he was shoved into a police car by guards who strong-armed him unnecessarily. The guards tried to shut his mouth forcibly while he was talking to reporters on the scene when even al-Qaeda or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) murderers were allowed to chant slogans while in police custody. When he was questioned by a partisan prosecutor as to why he included ministersand’ name in the investigation file, he said the legal evidence obtained by the police during the course of the corruption and bribery investigation pointed to the fact that the former ministers were involved in irregularities and wrongdoings and that he would have been committing a crime if he had excluded this fact from his report.
The political Islamist crooks wanted to make an example out of Handuseyin to intimidate others in the police force. He was placed in solitary confinement for months. From a little window in his cell, Handuseyin told his wife that he could only see passenger planes descending and ascending in the sky and imagined that they would go to South Korea on one of these planes with Dilruba holding both their hands. He carries Dilrubaand’s colorful hair clip as a reminder of his precious baby while behind prison walls. For a long time the authorities did not even allow him to touch his little baby as if he were a cold-blooded convicted killer.
The little girl, Handuseyin and Suhyunand’s first and adorable as can be, was separated from her father when she was a few months old. She is now 1 but Dilruba spent half of her life away from her father. Dilruba cannot comprehend this reality and when the phone is handed to her to speak to her father behind thick protection glass in prison, she just stares at it. Yet, inside Iand’m sure Dilrubaand’s heart aches for reasons she does not yet understand, but she surely absorbs the frustration and bitter feelings of both her mother and father, which have already taken a toll on this most precious baby. When finally given a chance to see his loved ones in an open meeting following months of solitary confinement, Dilruba, confused and overwhelmed by feelings, did not want to go to her fatherand’s arms, instead crying in her motherand’s lap. That moment probably broke this strong-willed man who defies immense political pressure and refuses to yield to despair.
But Handuseyin is also lucky that his own parents and in-laws stand by him during these terrible times. His mother Ayie Korkmaz vows to visit her son in prison with her head held high with pride and dignity because she said her son did everything by the book and exposed crooks and thieves. His in-laws, first shocked by the news of Handuseyinand’s arrest from a distance, were quick to understand that their son-in-law had fallen victim to a political witch hunt. They were also encouraged by their daughterand’s steadfastness and faith. In an interview with a Turkish news portal, Suhyunand’s mother Deok-Soon Lee praised Handuseyin as a very respectful, humble and highly intelligent man who deserves Suhyunand’s love. She recalled fond memories of her son-in-law when she and her husband visited Turkey in 2012 and 2014.
The government has deliberately failed to file an indictment against Handuseyin and the other 115 police chiefs who were arbitrarily detained on July 22, 2014 in a government hush-operation to silence anti-corruption investigators en masse. This is because filing the indictment, which lacks any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of those who are being detained, will start the trial and allow the officers to testify in the courtroom, spilling more dirt on government officials.
Two months from now it will be a year since Handuseyin was put behind bars and Dilruba and Suhyun separated from their loved one. In a letter Handuseyin wrote to Suhyun from his prison cell, he apologized to his wife for the ordeal she had to go through. and”I brought you back to Turkey from South Korea but Iand’m truly sorry for making you suffer like you came to North Korea,and” he said. That is a powerful statement that reflects the fast democratic backslide Turkey has been experiencing under the political Islamist regime that is highly corrupt, engages in the arbitrary application of laws and turns the country into an increasingly authoritarian state.
Kim Jong Un, the brutal tyrant of North Korea, viciously executes people he has deemed a threat to himself. Turkeyand’s authoritarian President Erdogan is not there yet. As Turkey has no capital punishment, Erdogan rather places his critics and opponents behind bars on trumped-up charges in special tribunals, refuses to allow them their day in court, vilifies them in the media and publicly attacks them during rallies with a hateful narrative and vitriolic speeches.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman