Yusuf Kerim Sayın, a child with bone cancer who made the headlines with a video of him crying and asking for his imprisoned mother posted on social media, has passed away.
The 6-year-old’s death was announced on social media by his father, Süleyman Sayın. On Sept. 27 he had said that malign tumors located on the child’s skull and spine were growing again and had metastasized to one of his feet.
Yusuf Kerim’s separation from his mother during his struggle with Ewing’s sarcoma, one of the deadliest types of bone cancer, had triggered a widespread public outcry and calls by politicians and celebrities for the release of his mother, Gülten Sayın, who was serving a sentence of six years, three months on conviction of alleged links to the Gülen movement, for working at a student dormitory that was subsequently closed down due to its affiliation with the movement.
The public campaigns led to legislation allowing the postponement of sentences for women whose children are suffering from illness. The law was enacted in April and led to Gülten Sayın’s release.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by 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 the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.