Letter to columnist reveals how poorly nursing mothers treated in Turkish prisons

A letter from a jailed victim of government crackdown on Gülen movement to Yeni Asya daily Editor-in-Chief Kazım Güleçyüz shows that women were poorly treated in Turkish prisons.

A letter from a jailed victim of government crackdown on faith-based Gülen movement to Yeni Asya daily Editor-in-Chief Kazım Güleçyüz shows that women, including nursing mothers, were poorly treated in Turkish prisons as five mothers who were separated from their new born infants were kept in overcrowded prison cell.

Twenty seven year-old woman whose name was not disclosed by Güleçyüz in his column said that she was detained on Jan. 2 after four police officers raided her house in early morning and arrested by a court following a week stay in police custody where she was in total solitary confinement.

Underlining that she was really scared of being taken to Manisa Prison as she has never been in such a situation in her life, she was surprised to see twenty other women who were arrested, similar with her, over links to Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen who is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup attempt in last July.

“Why all these good people are in jail. Many of them in their third month. Five of them nursing mothers who were separated from their new born infants…” the letter said.

“Two days after me, a mother from Soma [district of Manisa] with her three month-old infant came. Her husband is arrested too. And then, a 58-year-old aunt came. She was also a member of terrorist organization! Soon later, a mother with her twenty-year-old daughter, who was busy writing a thesis before coming here, came. At the end, two more mothers came from Turgutlu [district]. Twenty seven women and an infant in a hundred square meter area including thirty square meter for bedroom and thirty square meter for bathroom. It is hard to explain the conditions. You must see yourself,” she continued.

Underlining that Islam forbids killing or torturing women, children and the elderly even during the wartime, she said that the cruelty the women face in prisons in our time in Turkey has never been witnessed in Islamic history.

“We are trying to live in a cell which was designed for eight people. We cannot even breathe. The condition of the infant is not at all good. All people cry here. Some under a blanket, some on her prayer rug. Slowly. Silently,” she said.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the coup “a great gift of God” and pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

About 130,000 people have been purged from state bodies, 92,000 detained and 45,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and a comedian. (turkishminute.com) Feb. 28, 2017

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