May 232017

By Gürkan Özturan, 99GetSmart

Documentarist & video-activist Kazım Kızıl who was arrested while following the post-referendum protests in Izmir, misses his camera the most while in prison. Kızıl says “I will first hug my camera, and then my family and friends. I want to go on a vacation then; look at fields full of flowers, dive into rivers. I want to go a little crazy. It is not this prison that makes me crazy, it is liberty itself.”

Kazım Kızıl, having been behind bars since April 22 has answered Seyhan Avşar’s questions for Cumhuriyet Daily. He was arrested with claims of having insulted the president, which he states is not likely himself. “Insult is not my personality. I have nothing I cannot say through valid criticism to revert to insult. There are currently two court cases against me and an investigation. Both of the court cases are about journalism, regarding the news pieces I was following; and the investigation has started due to my participation in ‘Cinema for Peace’. If I am to summarize the situation in Metin Altıok’s lines, ‘I am dangerous for some, to be burned at stake, to set an example.’ The will is obvious; to prevent police violence on camera. Yet I continue to repeat, ‘Journalism is not a crime!’ Kızıl answers Avşar.

What about unfinished works?

I had been working on a series of documentaries regarding child labor prior to my arrest. Kids who work at tobacco fields with their parents, unpaid labor which is not considered work officially; the production of the first of series was complete for ‘Where are you, Friend?’. There was only the soundtracks and color correction remaining. Reflections of my childhood are in this documentary, which takes its name from Yaşar Kemal’s book that consists of his interviews with children. The second film was to be about Syrian child-workers. And the third one would be about the crony-businessmen erecting skyscrapers in Izmir’s Bayraklı, titled “Penises of Izmir”.

Do you have any problem in prison?

This is the first time I enter a prison in my life. I have been subjected to psychological harassment and pressure. For a long time Erdoğan-marches were echoed in my ears. Thankfully later I have erased the Erdoğan-marches from my ears with folk songs of Neşet Ertaş and poetry of Turgut Uyar that I kept repeating from within myself, having learned them by heart. We stay 19 people in a room for 8. Five of our friends sleep on the floor. Our letters are kept waiting in ‘reading committees’.

How do your days pass?

The books in the prison were finished only in a few days. I have started working on my English. I keep writing essays, articles, stories. Just like Sait Faik (Abasıyanık) has said ‘I would go crazy if I did not write’.

Apr 262017

Originally posted at dokuz8HABER, 99GetSmart


Documentarist and video-activist for Kamera Sokak, Kazım Kızıl has been arrested and sent to Menemen Prison. On April 17th, Kazım was detained while covering the protests in Izmir, Bornova after the referendum results had been perceived as illegitimate by many citizens. At the Küçükpark Square in Bornova, university students had called for a rally titled “No, We have Won”. The police intervened the rally and detained protesters, not allowing the press to take visuals from the site.

After Kazım was detained, his lawyer Dinçer Çalım stated that he was sent to court for arrest for non-compliance with Article 2911 -law regulating the meetings and rallies- and article 299 of Turkish Penal Code, ‘insult to President’. However during the questioning at the prosecutor’s office, issues related to “inciting violence” has been asked and new accusations have been made against Kazım.

Lawyer Çalım said, “There were 19 suspects in this file. The prosecutor did not take statements from those who have already given before. Kazım had given his statement in the police headquarters and prosecutor ‘accidentally’ also sent him to court for ‘insult to President’. They already do not look at the files, send everyone to court for arrest. There is no tweet or statement where Kazım has insulted the president.”

After 19 people have been detained, nine have been released and 10 have been arrested. Kazım Kızıl, Baran Bozdaş, Hasan Benli and Doğan Barış Halidi have been transferred to Menemen T Type Prison while female students Emine Ababa, Ezgi Toker and Enise Irin have been transferred to Şakran Women’s Prison.

There have started petitions and campaigns for Kazım’s freedom with the hashtag #FreeKazim.