3-month-old baby accompanies mother serving sentence for alleged Gülen links

Emine Coşkun, who was arrested in İstanbul on Friday to serve a sentence for conviction of links to the Gülen movement, is being accompanied by her 3-month-old daughter in prison, the Kronos news website reported.

Coşkun’s baby Seniha Bahar, who suffers from a cleft lip, underwent her first surgery a month ago and will need another operation in three months’ time. Coşkun’s family is worried that the poor conditions in prison will affect the baby’s health.

Seniha Bahar 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.

Coşkun was first detained in 2018 for alleged links to the movement.

Her husband, Zafer Coşkun, a former healthcare worker, was dismissed from his job by an executive decree. He is currently incarcerated in a prison in the southern province of Adana.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who is a medical doctor by profession, said “They just arrested the mother of a 105-day-old baby! This government is immoral. This baby just had surgery, and [sanitary conditions] are a very important part of her treatment.”

The detention and arrest of pregnant women and mothers with young children have dramatically increased in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt.

Despite the stipulations of the law, according to a report released by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a human rights activist and deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), there are currently 520 children locked up with their mothers in Turkish prisons.

The children are kept in unsuitable conditions as they are not well fed and do not receive sufficient medical care.

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