2 toddlers left to care of grandparents after both parents jailed over Gülen links

Murat, 29 months old, and Fatih Demir, 4, were left to the care of their grandparents after their parents were imprisoned in the western Turkish city of Edirne on Thursday on conviction of terrorism due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Kezban Demir was convicted of membership in a “terrorist organization” in August 2018 by a court in Bolu when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. She was then released pending appeal. She was sent to prison after an appeals court upheld her seven-year sentence.

Demir was working as the director of a student dormitory that was shut down for alleged links to the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. She was convicted based on witness testimony and for using the ByLock messaging app.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish 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 a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt the Turkish government accepted such activities as having an account at now-closed Bank Asya, one of Turkey’s largest commercial banks at the time, and using the ByLock encrypted messaging application, which was available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, subscribing to the Zaman daily or other publications affiliated with members of the movement, as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged followers of Gülen on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.

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