The daughter of the jailed journalist Mustafa Balbay gave a testimony of her experience having a father accused of being a “member of a terrorist organization” in the Ergenekon coup plot investigation, in a speech at the Free Media Conference organized in Norway yesterday. “I have been labeled a daughter of a terrorist. I was excluded at school,” said Yağmur Balbay, expressing her wish that no child be separated from their father unjustly.
Balbay, who has been imprisoned since Feb. 28, 2011, marked his fourth year in jail at the beginning of March. The former Editor-in-Chief of daily Cumhuriyet was also elected as a parliamentary deputy in the ranks of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the June 12 general elections of that same year.
The 12-year-old daughter of the journalist said that she could not understand how her father could be accused of being a terrorist. “We didn’t even have a toy gun in our house, my father would not hurt an ant,” she said.
Balbay’s wife, Gülşah Balbay, who also took the floor in the Free Media Conference, said that her daughter was eight years old and her son only eight months old when her husband was jailed. “In the past, there was hostility towards communists in my country. They would tell dissident writers and artists, ‘You are communist, go to jail!’… Now they tell journalists, students, lawyers and scholars, ‘You are a terrorist, go to Silivri [prison, were most of the Ergenekon suspects are jailed].’”
Meanwhile, Norwegian Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Torgeir Larsen emphasized that Europe has not shown a strong enough reaction against the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey. Larsen added that the testimonies of Balbay’s family helped him better understand the situation of journalists in Turkey.