Authorities’ negligence kills a pregnant woman and her baby in Turkish prison

A jailed Turkish pregnant woman, who was imprisoned in T-Type Prison in Ereğli district of Konya provision and her baby have lost their lives because of the negligence of the prison administration, according to a report by TR7/24 online news outlet on Sunday.

According to the report, although the female prisoner, who was jailed over her alleged  links to the Gülen movement, told the prison administration repeatedly that she did not feel her baby, she was not taken to a hospital.

At the last minute, she was reportedly taken by prison administration to the Ereğli State Hospital first and then she was decided to be transferred to Konya province by ambulance since she got worse. However, 50 km away from the hospital in Konya she lost her life on the way.

It was claimed that the pregnant woman has died because of blood poisoning due to the dead fetus in her womb. Also, according to the claims in the social media, the prison administration has intended to cover up the scandal for not being heard.

Former Mazlum-Der (The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People) Chairman Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who announced the scandal on his twitter account, told the Turkish Justice Ministry that “I think you will no longer resist this appalling case and you will make a statement about this horrific claim. The news from the prisons is quite creepy…!”

A worldwide awareness campaign was conducted in major cities across the world for 668 babies who were jailed together with their mothers in Turkey under autocratic regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The campaign was also supported by social media users with a call of “Raise Your Voice For 668 Babies and 17,000 Women in Prisons” under the hashtags in different languages including Turkish and English like #668Babies and #668BebekHapiste along the day.

Turkish government put at least 668 babies behind the bars as their fathers and mothers were arrested and sent to jail as part of massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The prison facilities provided to pregnant women and the women having babies under who were imprisoned in contravention of the laws are very limited. Many prisons are struggling to meet the needs of babies. In some prisons, 20 female prisoners with 4 infants have to stay in 8-person ward. Some women lye with a baby on a blanket laid on the concrete floor.

According to accounts of those who released from the prisons, the crib rate for babies is very low, the mother and the baby are lying together in the bunk. They need to entrust their babies to their friends in order to use the bathroom.

Moreover, there are no additional foods such as yogurt, eggs or soup to be given to babies. There are no areas where children would crawl and play. Needs like baby cloth, wet wipes are delayed for weeks and given insufficiently. Infants who have fever or are sick can have up to one day waiting time to go to the hospital. Needs like a walker are not given. There is no additional time for babies in open visit.

Following the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 more than 17,000 women with 668 babies were jailed over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Women are being accused of giving scholarships, arranging sales, depositing money into private lender Bank Asya, sending their children the schools affiliated with the Gülen movement, subscribing to Zaman and Bugün newspapers, using smart phone messaging application ByLock.

Women who come to hospitals for birth control or birth are clear target for the police officers. However, according to the Turkish Penal Code numbered 5275, “the sentence of imprisonment is left behind / postponed of women who are pregnant or have not passed six months since the conception of birth.” Experts say that according to the law, the arrest of pregnant women and those who have infants smaller than 6 months is not possible at all. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) also takes born or unborn child under protection.

However, during the 15-month state emergency (OHAL) period in Turkey, approximately 700 babies and more than 17,000 women were unlawfully put into prisons. Pregnant women in prisons were not released and also the mothers who gave birth were arrested with unlawful operations after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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 Turkey’s autocratic 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. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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