18 years in prison for a name resemblance: I am Süleyman Şeyho!

Süleyman Şeyho who came to Siirt in 2004 and got arrested there told in a letter that it was claimed that he is Muhammet Ahmet and sentenced to life imprisonment and has been held in prison for 18 years.

Süleyman Şeyho who signed all the papers the police have given him in the police station when he was detained because he didn’t speak Turkish, was sentenced to life imprisonment as a person named Muhammet Ahmet, told his story in a letter he sent from Balıkesir Type T Prison.


Stating that he can’t even send letters with his own name because to the prison he is someone else, Şeyho said: “I am in prison on behalf of someone else for 18 years because I couldn’t make anyone believe me. I would have thought that this kind of thing could only happen in the movies if I wasn’t the one who was going through this. It turns out it can. It is hard to believe but I can’t make any institution believe who I am.”


Stating that he was detained as an unregistered refugee in Siirt and didn’t speak any languages except Kurdish and Arabic and he was made to sign some documents without the presence of a lawyer or a translator, Şeyho said: “I signed all of the documents they put in front of me out of fear. I didn’t know the content of the documents. I was referred to court after a five day detention. I asked for a translator and then I found out what I was forced to sign. I also learned something else that day. It turned out I was Muhammet Ahmet and I was wanted for being a member of a terrorist organisation!”


Stating that he insistantly told that he was not Muhammet Ahmet and he didn’t know such a person, he was Süleyman Şeyho but he was arrested anyway, Şeyho said: “The trial continued for 3 years. I was imprisoned pending trial and I was accused of something I never did in every hearing. I told again and again that my name was Süleyman Şeyho. My father attended one of my trials and came from Syria for it. e submitted the family table approved by the Syrian Arab Republic Population Directorate, which he brought with him, to the court. This document and my father’s statement entered the official records. But despite all the evidence and statements, the case process was concluded against me. After more than 3 years of trial, I was sentenced to life imprisonment. This sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court after 2 years.”


Pointing out that he was in prison for the last 18 years for someone else he did not know and he was sent to 6 different prison during that time, Şeyho told that he had to learn to speak Turkish to be able to make himself understood. Şeyho said: “I tried to explain myself to many institutions, including the Ministry of Justice. I wrote petitions to courts, prosecutors’ offices, and letters to institutions. However, I couldn’t make anyone understand. Or none of them wanted to listen to me. Regarding this issue, I applied to the Human Rights Association (İHD) İzmir Branch in 2020. İHD applied to the Siirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and demanded that what I stated in my petition be investigated. However, without investigating the matter, without looking at my court statements, without examining the official documents submitted during the court process and included in the case file that I am Süleyman Şeyho, not Muhammet Ahmet, and again without considering the existing statements, it was decided that there is no basis for investgation on September 15, 2022. This has again dashed my slightly revived hopes that the truth will be revealed.”


Stating that he has been imprisoned as Muhammet Ahmet for 18 years, Şeyho continued: “They do not accept me and my name. I was an ordinary immigrant who took refuge in this country. But I have been in prison as Muhammet Ahmet for exactly 18 years. I am sure of myself, my age, my family, where I live and where I was born. Now this wrong, which has transcended torture, horror and brutality, has turned into a humanitarian plight. There is a big mistake, and I think it can be resolved very simply, if desired.”


Reiterating that he is Süleyman, son of İsmail and Ayşe, who was born in 1984 and registered in Kobanê in Aleppo, Şeyho said, “Muhammet Ahmet, for whom I have been imprisoned for 18 years, is the son of Mahmut and Fatma, born in 1977, registered in Derik district of Syria’s Haseke province, as far as I learned from court documents. In this case, the simplest way to reveal the truth is to look at the official records when there is such an age difference. I believe that official records and family statements will reveal the truth about me. There is another way to reveal the truth, which is a very simple method; DNA testing. When a blood sample is taken from anyone from my family, it will match me. And some of my family members are here in Turkey as refugees. This makes my request more accessable.”


Şeyho told that no one from his family has been able to visit him in prison because technically, they are not his family according to the court, and continued as follows: “I have been in prison for 18 years for someone else. I don’t know how long will this nightmare continue. I tried everything but nothing changed. All doors are shot on my face. I want to scream at the top of my lungs “I am Süleyman Şeyho!” Maybe then they’ll hear me. But I am not exactly sure of that. I lost every ounce of hope in the past 18 years.”