August 27, 2016
August 1, 2016
Was there a moment of shock when it came to you?
A sharp intake, the rasping breath of realisation?
Or simply relief at surviving your rookie shifts,
Then boredom and danger cocktailed into queasy routine.
So you wanted to be a police officer.
Protect and serve; defend and provide for.
If it’s not changing the world, you said to yourself,
At least I’ll be putting the bad guys away.
Instead all you Blues were recruited to the war on drugs.
In designated neighbourhoods your new assignment is to enter
As many perps as possible into the judicial process, if only
For possession, leaving little time for traditional policing priorities
Such as catching killers. In these districts nine out of 10 killings
Now remain untried and unpunished, unless you count
The unlawful acts of recrimination which have all but replaced
The intervention of the state in the expectations of local people.
Of the three guys on the corner, you’re the only one
That ain’t got his own. Dealer knows his job. Users, too,
Have a particular role to play. But you’re the little lost boy
Whose dotted line went off in unexpected directions.
Within your ranks there’s a hard core who might have done it
Anyway, at any time. But the not knowing who you are,
Not exactly sure what or who you’re there for
Must have been a factor in some of your folks not knowing
How to react, therefore emptying the magazine as if that means
Rubbing out a few pages instead of tearing into the flesh and bone
Of a fellow human being. Who knows whether all those ID checks would have
Gone so badly wrong if the policeman’s lot had not been re-cast without telling him?
When he didn’t come back, of course you were……
When you found his body in the makeshift morgue, of course you were…..
But now what are you? Now that the call your husband answered with his life
May have been as crooked as the coup he died resisting.
‘In this house there are three more lives to give for this country.’ Sema Sertcelik remains resolute. Her taxi-driver husband Akin (41) died for a noble cause: in defence of Turkey’s elected head of state, President Erdogan; in defiance of the attempted military coup which might have toppled the government on the night of 15th July 2016 but for the thousands of Turks who came out onto the streets of Istanbul and Ankara to stand in front of the tanks and block their progress.
Some of these demonstrators stopped soldiers’ bullets with their bare hands. There is silent footage of them dancing with rifle shots on the Bosphorus Bridge – swept off their feet, hopping on their haunches like Cossacks and ending with the signature move known as ‘biting the dust’. Akin Sertcelik was among those who bit the dust.
If further sacrifice is called for, the Widow Sertcelik will not hesitate. Same goes for her children, she tells a BBC reporter. But Irmak (17) and Hamza (10) say nothing.
Maybe they don’t agree. With thousands of arrests and hundreds of news outlets suppressed in the weeks following the failed coup, perhaps they consider their mother unduly loyal to an opportunist president who has seized the moment afforded by the failure of the coup and used it to incapacitate a whole range of political opponents; in flagrant breach of the democratic principles which he exhorted others to defend at all costs.
Or is it that Sema’s seeming conviction is only the flipside of suspicions she herself has come to share, but doesn’t dare admit to?