Cancer patient not released from prison until too late is on his deathbed

Cancer patient Ümit Gökhasan, who was not released from prison until his cancer had spread to other parts of his body, is now on his deathbed, according to a report by the Bold Medya news website.

Gökhasan was diagnosed with stomach cancer in prison, and his stomach and half of his esophagus were removed in an operation in February. He was sent back to prison 14 days after the surgery. His chemotherapy was interrupted when the coronavirus outbreak began to affect Turkish prisons in March 2020. Due to the delayed treatment, the cancer worsened to stage 3.

Gökhasan was arrested on March 8, 2017 on charges of links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, and was sentenced to six years, 11 months in prison. His case is currently awaiting review by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Gökhasan requested a postponement of his sentence for health reasons. Despite his condition, a medical report found in June that he could survive in prison and that there was no need to postpone his sentence.

His family objected to the decision, and Gökhasan was released in August based on a new medical report confirming his inability to take care of himself alone. He was hospitalized three weeks ago and underwent surgery on Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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. Erdoğan 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.

A police superintendent by profession, Gökhasan was dismissed from his job along with some 150,000 other public servants by one of the emergency decree-laws promulgated following the abortive putsch.

The post-coup purge has caused great suffering among the victims, many of whom, deprived of their liberties on trumped-up charges, stripped of their livelihoods, exposed to formal or informal discrimination and devoid of all hope for imminent relief, have proven to be easy prey for mortal diseases such as cancer.

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