Permanent resident returns to Ottawa after 262 days in Turkish prison

A permanent resident returns to Ottawa after 262 days in a Turkish prison

Cihan Erdal, a Canadian permanent resident, is back in Ottawa (archives).

Accused by the Turkish government of incitement to protest, Cihan Erdal spent 262 days behind the bars of a Turkish prison. After his release, he had to wait another year before returning to Canada. On Friday, he was able to regain his freedom and his partner, Ömer Ongun.

It has been too long since I was separated from my relatives, from Ömer, and deprived of my freedom, said the one who was first imprisoned in September 2020. During his year as civilian, he had to report regularly to the local police station.

“When I saw him at the airport, I took a deep breathing. »

— Cihan Erdal, back in Canada since Friday

The two men were able to reunite when Cihan Erdal disembarked from the plane. The Carleton University anthropology and sociology PhD student can now focus on his research on youth-led social movements in Europe.

During his detention, Cihan Erdal (left) had only one way to communicate with his spouse: by writing letters (archives).

He never doubted he was going to see his partner again, but he thought it was going to take longer. For Ömer Ongun, Friday was almost surreal.

Life goes on, but it seems inert. As soon as I saw him at the airport, my face beamed. And we were like: Wow, is this real?

Carleton University student remains detained in Turkey

Cihan Erdal spent the first 26 days of his imprisonment in solitary confinement.

I was shocked and tried to make sense of my Kafkaesque situation in this cell, alone, he says.

The hardest time for his partner was the first 36 hours of his detention since he was well aware that her lover had been taken somewhere, but was still waiting for a phone call from the lawyers.

Ömer Ongun has always claimed the innocence of his spouse Cihan Erdal (archives).

Cihan Erdal was once a young member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which the Turkish government accuses of being behind protests that killed 37 people in 2014. He was accused incitement to commit acts of violence and terror. If found guilty, he could face a life sentence.

Last summer, his lawyers presented evidence showing that Mr. Erdal, a permanent resident in Canada, had nothing to do with the protests since he was not in the same city when the HDP executive committee met to discuss its strategy. The Turkish court finally released him on bail.

Not knowing when he could leave Turkey again, he applied for political asylum in a third country whose #x27;identity was not revealed, walking for hours to the border.

From a border camp, he was able to alert Canadian authorities and organize his return trip.

The Government of Canada was not involved in his departure from [Turkey]. Due to privacy considerations, we cannot provide further details, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Jason Kung said in an email to CBC News.

Cihan Erdal is a PhD student in anthropology and sociology at Carleton University (on file) .

For now, the couple are looking forward to taking some time off, focusing on their dreams in Ottawa and taking trips to Canada.

I'm thrilled that this turned into a story with a happy ending. For us, it was a terrifying experience that no one deserves to have, said Cihan Erdal.

With information from < /em>CBC News

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