Five people including a mother with 3-month-old baby detained over HDP membership

Pro-Kurdish HDP member Gülistan Konuş was put behind the bars together with her 3-month-old baby.

Five members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) have been detained in Mardin over alleged charges of terrorism, according to the Evrensel daily.

Among the detainees are former Artuklu HDP branch head Mehmet Nezir Akalp, HDP members Sevim Acay, Neval Bingöl, Abdulkerim Sayaki and Gülistan Konuş, a mother with a 3-month-old baby. The detainees are accused of having links to the HDP and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Burcu Çelik, a deputy from the HDP who has been behind bars since April 19, had applied to the administration of Sincan Prison in Ankara to keep her 3-year-old daughter with her in prison, Turkish media reported on Wednesday. Çelik’s daughter Asmin Mira has reportedly been overwhelmed by the absence of her mother and the lack of opportunity to hug and kiss her during closed prison visits when visitors are separated by glass and cannot make physical contact.

HDP deputy group chairman Filiz Kerestecioğlu raised the situation of Çelik’s daughter during a speech at the party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

“The three-year-old daughter of our Muş deputy will go to prison. Today, there are 560 children incarcerated with their mothers in prisons. This figure will rise to 561 in a few days because Muş deputy Burcu Çelik has applied to the prison administration to keep her daughter with her in prison,” said Kerestecioğlu.

It was also reported on Wednesday that the Justice Ministry has accepted Çelik’s request to be reunited with her 3-year-old daughter in prison.

According to Turkey’s Justice Ministry, a total of 560 children under the age of 6 are staying in Turkish prisons along with their mothers. Responding to a parliamentary question from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gamze İlgezdi, the ministry recently said the number of children staying with their mothers behind bars had reached 560 as of April.

Children are taken to prison in the absence of family members to look after them. The Turkish government has launched a sweeping crackdown across the country, detaining more than 140,000 and jailing some 50,000 over alleged or real links to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to 55 municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast while there are currently 10 HDP deputies who are behind bars including the party’s co-chairpersons Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

Moreover, more than 80 mayors and 4,000 other officials from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) have been arrested in the past couple of months. (SCF with May 26, 2017

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