Behind Bars

Across the world, journalism is being treated as a crime. In Turkey, in retaliation against the July 2016 failed coup attempt, those who criticise the government have been subjected to extreme harassment, intimidation, and censorship. In 2016, Turkey alone held one third of the world’s imprisoned journalists, media workers and executives in its prisons, most of whom were still awaiting trial. Being denied the basic human right to express our opinions freely results in an oppressive and restrictive environment. Words should not be concealed behind censor bars, and voices should not be silenced by prison bars.

Behind bars,
A body bristles,
Shuddering, seething, shaking with indignation,
Pacing a stifling cell,
Where sound is silenced,
And noise enveloped in a heavy
Blackened blanket of control.

Behind bars,
A thousand opinions
Are clamouring, beating their fists, forcing their way
To the inmate’s mouth but
No one can hear.
No one will hear.

Behind bars,
A face contorts,
A mouth dilates,
An unfulfilled O
Receives its fate –
Its roars are muted,
Not communicated.

The long bars,
Print inky black shadows,
Over the eyes, over the mouth,
Striping across the entire body
Slicing it into a meaningless collection of opaque stains, rendered
Unreadable.
Unknowable.

Behind bars,
He is branded by blackness,
Shot through with spears of ink.
They warn,
‘Don’t write, don’t speak, and don’t even think’.
They fetter him to a vast blank wall,
And here he makes no difference at all.


Written by Jodie Sheehan

Jodie Sheehan is a 19-year-old second year student at the University of York. As a student of English Literature, books are her life; she’s always reading, or writing about what she’s reading. Outside the book world, she’s loves adventure in the real world. Travelling and seeing new things are what make her tick and spurs her on, from small trips to Edinburgh Fringe, to never-ending treks up Machu Picchu, Jodie is on a quest to see the world – and get as much of it as possible down on paper on the way. For her, documenting the experience is all part of the fun: she strives to capture each moment in a flurry of photography and flowery language.