Esra Çiçeklidağ, a former judge dismissed from her job by a government decree, was arrested on November 10, 2021 in violation of a Turkish law that requires the postponement of the execution of prison sentences for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.
Çiçeklidağ’s case was brought to light by human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on Thursday. Gergerlioğlu said in a tweet that Çiçeklidağ was sent to Gebze Prison with her 6-month-old baby and 4-year-old son.
“Her husband [a former district governor] was sent to prison the same day after his sentence was upheld [by an appeals court],” Gergerlioğlu said.
OHAL'de binlerce anne, çocuk perişan!!
"Ihraç Hakim adayı Esra Çiçekdağ 10 kasım 2021 den beri gebze kadın cezaevinde birisi 6 aylık birisi 4 yaşında 2 çocuğuyla birlikte tutuklu. Eşi de aynı gün kesinleşen hükmü nedeniyle kandıra cik e gönderildi.2 çocukla şuan çok zor durumda" pic.twitter.com/0S06XDkwSL
— Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu (@gergerliogluof) December 16, 2021
No details were shared about the accusations against the couple.
According to legal experts, the arrest of pregnant women or women with babies falls afoul of the Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures, which stipulates that “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.” The law also applies to inmates in pre-trial detention.
But the detention and arrest of pregnant women and mothers with babies have been continuing unabated in Turkey since a coup attempt in July 2016.
According to a report by Solidarity with Others, a nongovernmental organization that consists mainly of political exiles from Turkey, a total of 219 pregnant women and women with children under 6 years of age were arbitrarily detained or arrested over their suspected links to the Gülen movement.
Turkey experienced a controversial military coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 which, according to many, was a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power. The abortive putsch killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others.
The next morning, after announcing the coup had been suppressed, the Turkish government immediately started a wide-ranging purge of military officers, judges, police officers, teachers and other government officials that ultimately led to the dismissal of more than 130,000 public servants from their jobs.
As part of the massive crackdown, 150 of the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) 326 generals and admirals and 4,156 judges and prosecutors as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, more than 33,000 police officers and in excess of 5,000 academics were fired from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.
According to Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, as of November 15, 2021 a total of 319,587 people had been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.