More children separated from parents as Turkish government’s crackdown on Gülen movement continues

Photo: Unsplash

Two more children were left to the care of a relative due to the incarceration of their parents for alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Housewife Mihriban Külüs was arrested to serve a sentence for Gülen links two months ago, leaving her children ages 6 and 12 to the care of their aunt. Külüs’s husband Emrah Külüs has been in prison for the last seven years on similar charges.

The children’s aunt, identified only by the initials S. K., said she was under house arrest and could barely take care of the children because her husband was also incarcerated for links to the movement. S.K. called on authorities to release her sister under house arrest so they could take of the children together.

“I am currently the primary caretaker for my sister’s children, along with my two children. I also have a mother who is suffering from cancer. She needs my help, but I can’t even leave the house. We don’t know who to turn to for help,” she said.

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. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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 children. In cases where grandparents are responsible for the child’s care, they cannot meet every need, especially in education.

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