In the last days of September 2019, some hard to forget photographs were released to the world from Chios. In the first photo, there is a mother and father stooped from sorrow, standing next to graves of two little children, in a solitude cemetery on a hill overlooking the sea. A pickax and some timber on the ground…In the second photo, another father making the last prayer alone in front of two small white coffins…In another photo, a funeral ceremony carried on with attendance of a cemetery officer and two Greek citizens in front of the white coffins.

These were the last frames left from a group of 18 people, who had chosen to leave their home country because they were not let to live a normal life there. The group consisted of couples, who had pending trials in unlawful cases in Turkey, who were expelled from their jobs with a decree law and also had their passports confiscated, and their children.

On the night they sailed off on a fiber boat, September 27, 2019 around 00.30, the smuggler who sailed them made a sudden maneuver, the boat turned over and they suddenly found themselves in water. They were 18, including the captain, when they had sailed off. Only 12 could survive. İbrahim (3-y-o) and baby Mahir (four months old) from the Işık family; Mustafa Said (12-y-o) and Meltem (40-y-o) from the Zenbil family; Kevser (58-y-o) from the Sezer family; Gülsüm (8-y-o) and Mustafa (6-y-o) from the Kara family died in this accident.

Lives of Judge candidate Nazir Işık and Judge Fatma Işık’s began darkening and falling apart after the July 15 coup attempt. Fatma Işık was pregnant when she was arrested and imprisoned, and she was trialed with 7.5 years’ imprisonment. Her husband became unemployed and could not find a regular job with social security.

The letter Fatma Işık wrote in prison, to Sözcü newspaper columnist Emin Çölaşan, was published three years ago. In her letter, Fatma Işık told about the hard things she had lived. “We experienced a very tough process. I was 16 weeks pregnant. I’ve lived this whole process with my unborn baby that I carry. In our ward, we are 14 female judges and prosecutors expelled from profession. It has been more than two months that I’m under arrest. While there are hundreds of prisoners and convicts in this prison, there is only one doctor to provide medical service to so many people, and only on Thursday afternoons once a week. I’m 27 weeks pregnant now. This is my first pregnancy. We go to the hospital with steel handcuffs. The doctor saying ‘the baby’s doing fine’ is even enough for me. I don’t even think about asking her weight, height, appearance. There are moments when I can’t hold my tears. Believe me, I don’t care about anything. That my baby grows in my belly in such conditions is the most tiring and exhausting thing. We are both having hard times. The reason I wrote this letter to you, is to make our voice heard a little bit.”

Fatma Işık lost her baby Ibrahim, who was 27 weeks old in her when she wrote the letter, three years later in the Aegean waters. Mahir, who was born after the imprisonment, suffered the same fate as his older brother. The black slippers you see on exhibition today were İbrahim’s favorite slippers. He always wanted to wear it, although he had many other slippers. The blue socks are another memory left from İbrahim, which were soaked in the Aegean waters but seen and kept in pocket by his father at the last moment. The feeding bottle belongs to Mahir. Mahir’s first, only and last feeding bottle, who was only four months old. The last belonging of him as his mother said ‘passed away without getting it worn’…

Describing that horrible night, Ebubekir and Gonca Kara couple are thankful to God for surviving and being alive after that hours long battle for life. However, the waters took two of their three kids that night, Gülsüm and Mustafa.

Kara couple tells: “Screams were rising from all over, crying, shouting, asking for help”. Ebubekir Kara finds himself suddenly in water. He saw a little far his wife holding her little baby in her hands up in the air. Ebubekir Kara manages to reach her, despite he did not knew swimming, and takes the baby from his wife. They hold to each other. In the meantime, the boat acquaintance Yusuf Deniz (another one expelled with decree law) says “Give me the baby I’ll take him” and takes the baby. Lastly, they hear “Don’t worry, Alish is with me”…

After that moment, they will never see again anyone from the boat. They held on to each other until the morning, praying, expecting to die at any moment but also with some hope. When their feet started feeling cold and they felt sleepy, they asked each other: “Are we dying now?” They drifted in the water until morning. “We saw that fine line between life and death there” says Ebubekir Kara describing that night, and adds “the night took and dragged us”…

In the morning, they saw the boat quite far from them. The boat is turned upside down, the survivors sitting on top of it. At that moment when they were thinking they were going to die, a wave dragged them back to the boat. Their friends pulled them up immediately. When they got out, they found their baby Alish alive. But their other two kids were not there. In each of the families they sailed off with, there was somebody missing. The boat was full of grieving, exhausted faces. Then the Greek Coast Guard rescued them. Then the procedures in hospital, police station. Gonca Kara can not hold her tears while talking about what happened that night. With great patience and spiritual surrender, she tells: “How many children do I have? Three…two of them in heaven.…”

The clothes of Mustafa, described by the mother as “He was a very tidy boy, he loved to dress”, and the clothes of Gülsüm described as “She liked wearing yellow the most”, which were all collected from the sea, are also in the inventory of Tenkil Museum. Among what remains from the kids include a pair of glasses and a blue balloon. Blue is the color of freedom. This blue balloon is an immortal memory, from a story of freedom ending in the Aegean.