Read books make their way to inmates via ‘Crazy Waves’

Vercihan Ziflio?lu
ISTANBUL
A public-spirited group, Crazy Waves Outside, initiated a campaign to support 10,000 prisoners in Turkey by sending them 10,000 books from the beginning of this month
R?za Arslan (L), one of the founders of ‘Crazy Waves Outside,’ and Gökhan Oruç, a former convict, talk to the Daily News about their campaign to send books to prisoners. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
R?za Arslan (L), one of the founders of ‘Crazy Waves Outside,’ and Gökhan Oruç, a former convict, talk to the Daily News about their campaign to send books to prisoners. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
A group called “Crazy Waves Outside” has initiated a campaign to support 10,000 prisoners in Turkey by sending them 10,000 books from the beginning of July to the end of November.
“We are calling upon all dissident and conscientious individuals regardless of their language, religion or race to back this campaign,” R?za Arslan, one of the group’s founders, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“We are inviting everyone who is sufficiently ‘deranged’ and ‘critical.’ We are ready to collect 10,000 books by knocking on everyone’s door one by one, if necessary. You can support our campaign with books in every language; we need every kind of book.”
The group has collected 1,000 books so far and has begun mailing them to the prisoners, Arslan said, calling it a good achievement for the first week. Crazy Waves Outside obtained the prisoners’ data from the Justice Ministry, he said.

“We want to show those [locked behind bars] that we have not forgotten them in any way,” Arslan said. “We are aiming to build bridges through words. May every dissident who has a conscience back this campaign.”

Some 40 volunteers work for the group which first convened in 2008, said Arslan. Donations from those members enabled the first communications with the prisoners.

“On our first campaign, we wrote and sent letters to all political convicts in prison,” Arslan said. “Unfortunately, our letters got stuck in the prisons’ reading commissions, [but] we kept on our path nevertheless.”

If their books reach a similar fate, Arslan said the campaign will remain persistent. “If a book sent [to a prison] fails to pass the book commission’s [inspection,] we still would continue to keep mailing the book back [to the prison].”

To participate in the campaign, volunteers contact campaign managers through their website at www.delidalgalar.com. The campaign also has three drop-off locations across Istanbul: the Solidarity Association with the Palestinian People branch in Taksim Square, Promethe Cafe in Kad?köy or Sokak Bistro in Kartal.

“When you turn the pages of the book, you start dreaming about who read it,” Gökhan Oruç, a former convict, told the Daily News. “It purges you of the feeling of loneliness to know that a book from outside has reached you, that somebody outside is thinking of you.”

Oruç was jailed at the age of 16 on accusations of being a member of an outlawed group and released when he was 26.

“The commission checked our books when they distributed them to us because they viewed political prisoners as sick [people] and fancied they were going to cure us by withholding books from us,” he said.

Oruç called on the public to back the campaign. The feeling when a book from the outside reaches a prisoner is indescribable, he said.

“When I entered [prison], I was but a child; I entertained no world views. While I was [locked in] I started reading and questioning the system more and more, and my world view began to take shape,” he added. Oruç stayed in an F-type prison in the northwestern province of Tekirda?.

“The letters I received when the security hatch opened and the prison guard’s hand reached in helped me to cling onto life. I knew neither their names nor who they were, but it was very delightful to know there was someone out there thinking of us,” said Oruç, who also received letters from Crazy Waves Outside while he was in prison.


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