1-month-old baby accompanies mother jailed for alleged links to Gülen movement

Burcu Levent, a mother of two who was arrested on December 28 in the central Turkish province of Konya for alleged links to the Gülen movement, is being accompanied by her 1-month-old daughter in jail, the Kronos news website reported.

Her lawyer’s request to end her detention was rejected, and it was decided that she should remain in prison with her 20-day-old baby, İnci Feyza.

İnci Feyza will have to live with her mother in jail despite the Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures, which stipulates that the “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last 18 months.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Levent’s brother said she gave birth in the eighth month of her pregnancy. “Burcu lost a lot of blood during the birth. She stayed in the hospital for a long time during the pregnancy because the baby’s life and her own were in danger. Yet she was arrested only 20 days after such a risky birth,” the brother said.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu addressed Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ regarding Levent’s situation. “This baby is only one month old, and she is in jail. She was born prematurely at eight months. The appeal against the mother’s imprisonment was rejected. The mother and the baby remain in prison under these circumstances,” Gergerlioğlu said.

 

Levent also has a 3-year-old daughter. It is not yet clear whether she will accompany her mother in jail.

Human rights advocates have said children accompany their mothers in prison at very young ages, which are often critical periods in their mental and physical development. However, the children were kept in unsuitable conditions in Turkish prisons as they were not well fed and did not receive sufficient medical care.

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