Government assistance to disabled woman cut off after father’s arrest

Financial assistance paid by the Turkish government to the family of Nurbanu Aydın, a 29-year-old “spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy” patient, was cut off after her father, Muammer Aydın, was arrested on trumped-up terrorism charges.

Due to her disability, Nurbanu needs life-long care.

Mahire Aydın said her husband was arrested on October 5, 2016 on charges of membership in “FETÖ” (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization — a derogatory term used by the Turkish government for the faith-based Gülen movement). He was later charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” convicted and sentenced to six years, eight months in prison.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, and labels it as a “terrorist organization.” The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity. Since the abortive putsch, more than 150,000 public servants have been removed from their jobs, over 500,000 people have been investigated on terrorism charges and more than 90,000 have been arrested.

Muammer Aydın ran an auto parts store. According to his wife, sending three of their children to a private school associated with the Gülen movement and being a member of a business association that was allegedly tied to the movement were the only reasons he was convicted.

After the monthly payments were cut off, Mahire Aydın appealed to the Social Security Institution (SGK). A team of experts visited their home to make the final decision. When they learned why Muammer Aydın had been convicted, one of them simply said, “You don’t deserve to get assistance.” A couple of months later, they were officially informed that they would no longer receive government payments. They currently get by with the help of her two sons.

Human rights defender and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said the authorities hurt families with disabled children with unlawful decisions. He pledged to take the issue to the Human Rights Committee of the Turkish Parliament and pose a parliamentary question to the government.

Mahire Aydın said she can’t take Nurbanu to visit her father, adding: “Hip dislocation is a serious risk in her case, and it already happened once. She can’t sit in the wheelchair.” She also said her husband was not in good shape, “He has hypertension. He couldn’t present his defense in court, he passed out. … He also has difficulty looking after himself. He can’t wash his clothes because his hand was burned when he was a child.”

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