‘I’m labeled a terrorist’s child,’ says daughter of imprisoned journalist and CHP deputy Balbay

Yagmur Balbay (L) was eight years old when her father was arrested in 2008. Hürriyet photo

Yagmur Balbay (L) was eight years old when her father was arrested in 2008. Hürriyet photo

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.

HDN, March/16/2013

About CHP EU Representation

The CHP was founded on 9 September 1923, about one and half month before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. The first President of modern Turkey’s oldest party was M. Kemal Atatürk. Today CHP is a social-democratic party, member of the Socialist International and associate member of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament. The scope of the CHP bureau in Brussels is not limited to the bilateral framework of Turkey's EU accession process. Issues such as the information society, energy policies, social development, climate change, international trade and security are among the different focus areas. The EU-Turkey relations are about integration and need multiple, plural and horizontal channels of communication. The CHP supports and promotes Turkey's EU membership process also by being more present and active in Brussels The CHP's Representative to the EU is Ms Kader Sevinç who previously worked as an MEP advisor at the European Parliament and in the private sector.
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