15-month-old held in Turkey’s prison suffered from bad conditions

Hundreds of infants have been kept in pretrial detention in Turkey’s jails with their mothers due to a state of emergency (OHAL) designed to solidify the power of an increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after a failed coup attempt last year. A letter by a now released jailed Turkish woman revealed the condition of infants with their mothers.

According to a report published by Aktif Haber news portal, the mother’s letter details now the fifteen-month boy’s ordeal in the overcrowded jail cell in which the boy, Muhammed Vefa Dalaklı, was left out in difficult conditions and in need of care. The mother’s letter explains that she and her then nine-month-old baby

The mother’s letter explains that she was in Manisa E-type prison for three months with her then-9-month-old baby. Since there was no enough accommodation for detainees in the prison, she and her baby were placed with thirty other women in a cell that was built to accommodate only eight. “One night in custody my boy had to sleep on the floor of a Masjid in the cold of January,” she stated.

The cell was lack of proper hygienic cleaning, the woman said, adding to that his baby first cut a tooth in these conditions. “He first learned to crawl and then walk on just a 1 square meter floor covered with full of bedspread,” the woman told.

The woman also talked about his husband taken into the custody when his baby was only three-and-a-half year old. “My husband was informed of all these events by letters. Still, he can only hear from us by only these letters,” the woman added.

She said she and her baby-son have got out of jail more recently, under these conditions that does not mean that they will relive, and she also noted that even though they are out of prison right now, there are still thousands of mothers waiting for gaining their freedom.

Children are taken into prison in the absence of family members to look after them outside. Turkish government has launched a sweeping crackdown across the country, detaining more than 120,000 and jailing some 55,000 over alleged links to a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry reported that out of 668 kids behind the bars, 149 are aged between 0 and 12 months; 140 children are 1-year old; 124 children are 2 years old; 117 children are 3 years old; 77 children are 4 years old; 44 children are 5 years old; 6 children are 6 years old; while age of the remaining 11 are unknown.

Meanwhile, another news story has been published very recently by Aktif Haber news portal on the subject of a family of five with a seventy-four year old grandmother and a very sick uncle resided in Yozgat’s Sorgun district.

While their mother has been kept under detention in Ankara’s Sincan Women closed prison, their father still remains in custody in the province of Yozgat. Their middle sister remarked that it has been two months since she and her two sisters have come there. “We are three sisters. My younger sister is only twelve years old, and I am also preparing for the National University Entrance Exam (YDS)”, she stated.

By noting that her elder sister is going to the university soon, she told that she is obligated to take the responsibility of both of her younger sister and her grandmother while she is studying for the university entrance exam. “I do not know how to handle this situation.”, she said.

Since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has detained more than 120,000 people and jailed some 50,000 as part of its post-coup crackdown. The arrestees include several pregnant women, elderly citizens, disabled individuals and many from other vulnerable groups.

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