Camber Atees, the son of Epek Elmas, who was remembered with the words “How are you Cumber Atees” and one of the symbols of the persecution and torture he experienced during the September 12 coup, said his mother spoke only Kurdish until her death. .
The only Turkish sentence she knew when she went to visit her son, who was captured during the 1980 military coup, was “Cumber Aates, how are you?” Epek Elmas, known for his rhetoric and a symbol of persecution and torture during the September 12 military coup, died in Istanbul on 11 February.
Epek Elmas was buried in Derekou, in the Imranli district of Sivas, where he had to leave for 12 years due to health problems.
Ateş, born in Dereköyü in 1936, grew up at a young age with heavy responsibilities imposed on girls by village conditions, and in 1954 married her cousin Hussein Ates. From this marriage his two children are Melek and Kambar.
Elmas, who both cared for her children and worked in the fields and as a shepherd at a young age, had to continue her life after her husband joined the military and with her children.
Hussein Ates, who went to work in another city after his military service, never returned to the village. Epek’s mother, who was alone with her two children, did not succumb to social pressure to remarry and raised her children alone.
The only Turkish word Elmas used all his life was “Cumber Aates, how are you?” It happened. He did not use the Turkish language imposed on him in the cities he had to visit.
Torture in prison
Cumber Aates from the Mesopotamian Agency told Berivan Altan what had happened at the time and told his mother.
Atesh, who was detained while studying at a university in Ankara in 1980 to protest the Koram genocide, was later held in the Mamak military prison.
Atesh, who served five years in the 11-year sentence handed down by his trial at Mamak Military Prison, spoke of the pressures in prison and his meeting with his mother with these words:
That public dialogue could be 1981 or 1982. I don’t remember exactly. Half an hour ago we were being taken out of the ward through various dams and barricades to meet our relatives. So we were watching the violence. You get pretty annoyed until you meet the audience. There was only a five minute scene. Speaking in a language other than Turkish, looking left and right, pointing, making intelligible movements were forbidden. He was treated like a prisoner. There were moments when we didn’t want our families to come. To see what will be brought to them or not to see what has been given to us.
‘Camber fire, how are you?’
“My mother surprised me by saying that her mother was nervous every day because she didn’t know any language other than Kurdish,” he said. Outside family helped him. I asked him, ‘You don’t know Turkish, but you know your son’s name, and how are you? They said, ‘You will learn,’ and he memorized it. We have already faced violence, but it hurt even more when our family faced violence. Such an incident did not happen with the cooperation of the spectators. When my mother asked, ‘How are you, Cumber Aates’, I thought she was learning Turkish. I said I’m fine, I chatted with my sister. My mother asked again, ‘Camber ates, how are you?’ He asked. When I asked the same question for the third time, I realized that he had not learned Turkish.
Flowers from mom
Mentioning that he was later transferred to a prison in Canakkale, Ates said that his mother used to visit him once a year:
A soldier was waiting for Mama for you and your visitor. He keeps track of the conversation. It depends on the conscientious objection of the soldier there. He could speak Kurdish because we were in Chanakkal prison. I can’t forget a memory of Canakkale prison. A visit from my mother coincided with Mother’s Day. I thought I would bring him flowers, then I told him that he was already among the flowers in the village and left. I saw my mother came with a bunch of flowers in her hand. We hugged, I was embarrassed that she brought me flowers.
‘I never heard a word from you in Turkish’
Ates says his mother never learned Turkish and that he always took care of his mother tongue. Revealing that her mother insisted on speaking the language despite her difficulties because she knew no language other than Kurdish, Ates said:
When he came to Ankara, when we took him to the hospital, he suffered a lot because of the language. My mother was talking to me in Kurdish, I was talking to the doctor in Turkish. He never learned Turkish. He cared for his language, his environment, his land, his home. He understands Turkish, but I have never seen him speak. Despite speaking Turkish at home, I never heard a word from him. He always spoke his own language.
‘My mother was always in the village spiritually’
Mentioning that he had to stay in Istanbul 12 years ago because of his mother’s health problems, Ates summarizes his aspirations for his village as follows:
Ruhen did not leave his village. His body is gone, he is wandering around, but spiritually he is still in his village. He had to leave the village due to health problems. He expressed his longing for his village. I once took him to the village during his illness; ‘It would have been nice if I had died here,’ he said. When we returned to Istanbul, he would tell his relatives, ‘I’m not dead this year.’
Mentioning that his mother’s burial in his village was due to the villagers’ loyalty to him, Ates added: “Everyone had a hard time for him. If I had said I would bury him here, they would have taken him by plane. If there was a snowstorm in our village, they would cut it off and take my mother there.