Mother of 19-month-old sent to prison with her toddler over Gülen links

Rukiye Güler, a homemaker with three children, was sent to prison to serve a six-year, three month sentence for alleged links to the Gülen movement, accompanied by her 19-month-old daughter, Bold Medya reported.

Güler was convicted during her pregnancy but was released pending a decision from the Supreme Court of Appeals. She was sent to prison in southeast Turkey’s Diyarbakır province after the court upheld the verdict.

Güler’s husband Erhan Güler was also arrested and sentenced to six years, 10 months and is currently incarcerated in southern Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş Prison. He used to work as a counselor for a university preparation course that was affiliated with the movement and later shut down.

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 the 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.

The detention and arrest of pregnant women and mothers with young children have dramatically increased in Turkey in the aftermath of a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

According to a report released by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a human rights activist and deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), there are currently 3,000 children locked up with their mothers, 800 of whom are below the age of three.

The report, released ahead of the March 8 International Women’s Day, also revealed that 17,000 were currently behind bars in Turkey.

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