5-year-old Turkish asylum seeker in Athens diagnosed with cancer

A 5-year-old boy from İstanbul who along with his mother fled the Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt to Greece has been diagnosed with leukemia in Athens.

“Nail Koçal, a 5-year-old Turkish refugee in Greece, was diagnosed with leukaemia on Thursday. His blood values are so low that he immediately started chemotherapy. They need your prayers and support from Germany,” exiled journalist Cevheri Güven tweeted on Sunday.

Güven added in a series of tweets that Nail Koçal’s father Şaban Koçal had earlier claimed asylum in Germany, awaiting family reunification.

The Koçal family is accused of having ties to the Gülen movement in Turkey. Şaban Kocal escaped to Germany in the aftermath of a July 15, 2016 failed coup, while his wife Birgül Koçal and two children had to stay in Turkey for a while. Birgül Koçal had spent some time in pre-trial detention in İstanbul along with Nail, 4 years old back then, before they ultimately fled to Greece.

“Nail got the know prison conditions when he was only 4. He was not even allowed to play with his toys. What he and his mother went through is like part of a novel. They went to Greece to seek asylum following their release after a lengthy detention,” Güven said.

Women and mothers who have been jailed in the unprecedented crackdown have been subjected to torture and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear released in April 2017 by SCF revealed.

In a 28-page report issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in March 2018 emphasised on the detention, arrest and torture of pregnant women and children in Turkey in 2017. The report said that “OHCHR estimates that approximately 600 women with young children were being held in detention in Turkey as of December 2017, including about 100 women who were pregnant or had just given birth.

“Immediately after their request for family reunification was approved and they received the required documents, while Birgül Koçal and her two children were preparing to leave [Greece] for Germany, purple spots started to appear on Nail’s body. The initial diagnosis [leukemia] was made by Turkish doctor, also a refugee, in Greece,” said Given.

Now that Nail has been taken to a hospital in Athens for extensive treatment, the Koçal family is seeking to reunite in Greece. “Nail’s immune system will suffer during the chemotherapy, and he will lose his hair. He needs to see his father who has been away for months now. Those who have the power to lobby in Germany could help to expedite his father’s passport process,” Güven stated.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against alleged followers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many tried to flee Turkey illegally as the government had cancelled their passports like thousands of others.

On Feb 13, at least three people died and five others were missing after a boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape the post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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