219 pregnant women, mothers detained or arrested over Gülen links in 4 years: report

Babies accompanying their mothers in Konya Ereğli prison.

A total of 219 pregnant women and women with children under six years of age were arbitrarily detained or arrested over their suspected links to the Gülen movement, Turkish Minute reported, citing a report recently released by a Brussels-based human rights monitor.

Solidarity with OTHERS, a nongovernmental organization that mainly consists of political exiles from Turkey, shared statistics of people arrested over links to the Gülen movement since 2016 in a report titled “Arbitrary Detention and Arrest as Crimes against Humanity.”

According to the report a total of 92 pregnant women and women who had just given birth, 40 mothers with infants between 0 and 6 months old and 87 mothers with children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years were detained or arrested over Gülen links as part of operations carried out in 56 provinces.

Ninety-six people with serious health problems were detained or arrested in 40 provinces across Turkey in operations targeting alleged Gülen movement members, the human rights monitor also said.

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.

The report further showed that 35 people with disabilities and 17 elderly people were also detained or arrested on similar charges in operations carried out in 21 and 11 provinces across Turkey, respectively.

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 Gülen movement.

More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 20,610 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Such daily activities as having an account at or depositing money in a Gülen movement-affiliated bank, working at any institutions linked to the movement or subscribing to certain newspapers and magazines were accepted as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged members of the movement.

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