Caregiver of young man suffering from autism and epilepsy re-arrested for Gülen links

Çiğdem Tosun, the mother and the sole caregiver of a 20-year-old autistic man suffering from epilepsy, was detained for the second time on Monday in the western Turkish province of Manisa over her alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Tosun was first detained together with her husband, Associate Professor Halil Tosun, on January 23, 2017 over alleged links to the Gülen movement and was sentenced to seven years, six months in prison. However, the court decided to release her since she was the sole caregiver for her disabled son, while her husband was arrested and compelled to serve his sentence.

Tosun was taken into custody for the second time on Monday along with 14 other people in Manisa as part of an investigation into the so-called “restructuring of the Gülen movement” launched by the Manisa Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday for alleged membership in the movement.

Tosun was detained while traveling by car with her mother, father and son, Süleyman Bera. Tosun’s parents, who can’t drive, had to wait a long time on the highway with their grandchild until someone came to take them home, her brother said.

Due to a confidentiality order on Tosun’s file, there is no further information available about her detention.

Tosun’s parents said their grandchild, Süleyman Bera, had not spoken to anyone since the day of the incident and that they were worried he might have an epileptic seizure as he has had in the past.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker and human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on Wednesday tweeted: “Every single day there is another story of persecution from Turkey! Çiğdem Tosun, who has a disabled child suffering from epilepsy, was re-detained. And her husband, Associate Professor Halil Tosun, completed his prison sentence in February but was not released. What kind of cruelty is that?”

 

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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, of masterminding.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.

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