Günnur Şahin, a mother of two, was detained for alleged links to the Gülen movement while visiting her husband in prison together with her daughter and was mistreated in detention, according to a letter published by the Bold Medya new website on Friday.
In the letter Şahin said her 11-year-old daughter Elif Rana Şahin was with her when she was detained, while her 8-year-old daughter was with her grandparents.
“There was a police officer waiting for me when I went to see my husband in prison,” she said. “I was shocked and found out that there was a group of policemen searching my house at the same time.”
Şahin said she told her husband what was happening and that her daughter understood something was wrong. Şahin was detained during the visit and was separated from her daughter Elif Rana, who was sent to her grandparents.
Two days later Şahin was arrested and sent to Afyon E-type Prison. Şahin said she was insulted while in detention and not allowed to perform her prayers, which are obligatory for practicing Muslims. “I want to forget about the detention center because the conditions were awful,” she added.
Şahin said she was also unable to see or hear her from children for 17 days. She said her arrest caused much distress for her children, who did not want to go to school and were constantly crying.
Şahin’s husband Ibrahim Şahin was a former public servant who was summarily fired by a government decree after a 2016 coup attempt. He was arrested for links to the Gülen movement on September 9, 2016 and sent to a prison in Burdur province.
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.
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 the children. In cases where grandparents are responsible for the child’s care, they are unable to meet every need, especially help with schoolwork.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.