Health of woman arrested while pregnant worsens in prison

Sehat Sarı, who was arrested in the sixth month of her pregnancy and is being kept in prison despite a regulation requiring her release, now has difficulty walking and breathing, the Kronoshaber news website reported.

Sarı was detained on June 5 in Ankara, and after her arrest on terrorism-related charges of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, a dissident group that has been relentlessly targeted by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was put in pretrial detention in a prison in the neighboring city of Aksaray.

Five months pregnant when arrested, Sarı entered the seventh month of her pregnancy in prison, despite all her requests for release. According to her family, her health is deteriorating by the day.

She had a miscarriage in the past and faces the risk of suffering another one. Because her husband, Samet Sarı, was also arrested the same day, their one-and-a-half-year-old son Mustafa Vedat has to live with his grandmother in Ankara.

Both Sarı and her husband were teachers in the past.

Contacted by Bold Medya, Sarı’s parents say she is having problems in prison due to the pregnancy. She told her family she had difficulty walking, yet she was constantly forced to climb stairs. She also said she had trouble breathing, the parents reported.

Her parents further claimed that their daughter, forced to leave her one-and-a-half-year-old child behind, is depressed and constantly in tears, making her unfit to stay in prison. Mustafa Vedat needs his parents and is continually crying, calling for his mother, according to the parents.

Sarı’s arrest will soon be reviewed by a higher court in Ankara. Her arrest arguably runs afoul of the recently enacted 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.”

Interpreting the law literally, the authorities refuse to apply it to inmates in pretrial detention.

President Erdoğan has been conducting a large-scale crackdown on the Gülen movement since two corruption probes in 2013 -– the so-called December 17-25 corruption operations that implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and his close associates, which he attributed to members of the movement in the police and judiciary.

Since a failed coup on July 15, 2016, for which Erdoğan scapegoated the movement, the crackdown has gained momentum, with 597,783 people investigated on coup-related charges, 282,790 detained and 94,975 arrested. A total of 25,912 of the arrestees are still in jail, according to figures provided by Turkey’s Interior Ministry.

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