Former teacher arrested on Gülen charges, leaving 3 children behind

Elif Çelik Demir, 42, a former kindergarten teacher and a mother of three, was arrested on Tuesday for alleged links to the Gülen movement, leaving her children to the care of relatives, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Demir, who was summarily fired from her job by a government decree in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016, was arrested in the city of Ereğli after a six-year, three month prison sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

She was first arrested in November 2016 and was released pending trial eight months later.

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu criticized the decision on Twitter.

 

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 an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

The purge has damaged the unity of many families and left children to the care of relatives. Such separations have had a negative impact on the mental and physical well-being of the children. In cases where grandparents are responsible for the child’s care, they are unable to meet every need, especially help with schoolwork.

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 on November 22.

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