Nebahat Akkoç

We could not even get the chance to talk about education


Nebahat Akkoç

Education and Science Workers’ Union – Eğitim Sen, Diyarbakır, 1990s


As a person who is instinctively in opposition I wanted to be in the restructuring process in Turkey, a country that was smashed by the September 12 coup d’état. In the period when I acted as the Diyarbakır Branch Head in 1992 there were around 700 members. As my turn ended we had around 2500 members. We visited all the schools; we were legitimate, though we were not officially recognized.  The circumstances were serious. In my period of office 26 teachers were murdered. We decided to demand that the state provided protection in the schools. I phoned the National Education Director on Friday to ask for an appointment just to ask for this; they told me the director would be receiving me on Monday. Meanwhile, the State of Emergency Governor called the National Education Director; they wanted to cancel the meeting. Monday was like an apocalypse. I mean there were tank divisions, special teams were stationed everywhere from my home to the National Education Directorate. After bargaining it was decided that I could meet the National Education Director. As I went up the stairs there were weird men on each step. As I returned 14 of my friends were detained; they were seriously beaten. I rushed up to the governor’s office; told him that my friends were detained. “Nebahat Hanım go to your home” he said, “Your friends will be released.” I have not forgotten the expression on his face. I felt he was looking as if  he wanted to say “What about this hassle? What do you think you are doing?” … My life was never the same afterwards. From the very next day, I was forced to listen to nationalist marches on my phone. I was told to leave Diyarbakır, otherwise I had to face consequences. In the meantime, a couple of more friends were shot. And then on January 13 they shot my husband. It was such a period of trade union activism. I never went to the school after the day my husband was shot. I always loved kids. I had the belief that the revolution of the new century would come through education. But we did not even have the opportunity to discuss education.”

To read the full text of Nebahat Akkoç’s oral history interview of 2017 (in Turkish) click here