2-month-old baby accompanies mother arrested for alleged links to PKK

Photo collage: SCF

A mother of three from northeastern Syria’s Rojava province who was arrested for alleged links to the  Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was accompanied by her 2-month-old daughter in prison, the Bianet news website reported.

Reyhan Abdi was first detained on August 26 and held at Istanbul police headquarters. The İstanbul branch of the Liberal Lawyers’ Association (ÖHD) announced she had been arrested three days later and that her baby was accompanying her in prison, although the Law on the Execution of Punishments and Security Measures stipulates that “the execution of the prison sentence is postponed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last 18 months.”

Abdi’s lawyers said she had stopped breastfeeding due to stress and had suffered severe mental health problems while in detention. “It is clear that our client’s physical and mental health will deteriorate under these circumstances. Detaining children with their mothers violates basic human rights and the rights of children. We will continually remind judicial authorities of their responsibility to act in accordance with the law. As the ÖHD, we will not accept this decision and will take legal action for Abdi,” they added.

As of December 2021 there were 548 children in prison with their mothers. Human rights advocates have saidchildren accompany their mothers in prison at very young ages, which are often critical periods in their mental and physical development. However, children are not provided basic needs such as crayons or toys. Some cells are not provided with a carpet for crawling babies, and inmates make makeshift rugs out of blankets. Many children do not have their own beds and share their mothers’ food.

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