Sümeyye Aydın, the mother of two children aged 11 months and four years, was sent to prison in violation of a law that requires the postponement of the execution of prison sentences for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half, the TR724 news website reported.
Aydın was sentenced to seven years, six months in prison for alleged membership in the Gülen movement. She has been under house arrest for eight months.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish 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 on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Aydın was arrested on Tuesday despite the fact that the Law on the Execution of Punishments and Security Measures stipulates that “the execution of the prison sentence is postponed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last 18 months.”
It is not yet known whether the baby will accompany her mother in prison or not. The immediate future of Aydın’s 4-year-old daughter is similarly unknown.
The detention and arrest of pregnant women and mothers with young children have dramatically increased in Turkey in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt.
Human rights advocates have said children accompany their mothers in prison at very young ages, which are often critical periods in their mental and physical development. However, children are not provided basic needs such as crayons or toys. Some cells are not provided with a carpet for crawling babies, and inmates make makeshift rugs out of blankets. Many children do not have their own beds and share their mothers’ food.