A mother of two was arrested on Tuesday to serve a sentence on conviction of “terrorist organization membership” after being pushed back from Greece, where she had fled to seek asylum, the Kronos news website reported.
Rümeysa Som was sentenced to almost eight years in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist” activities. After her sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals, Som decided to flee to Europe to escape incarceration. However, upon her arrival in Greece, she was pushed back to Turkey and arrested in the border city of Edirne by Turkish authorities.
Som was working for a now-closed association linked to the movement. She was first arrested in November 2020, but was released 10 days later. However, once her sentence was upheld Som decided to flee the country for a safer life.
Som’s husband is also currently in prison on similar charges. He was sentenced to just short of nine years in prison and is incarcerated in northwestern Turkey’s Sakarya Ferizli prison.
The couple’s two daughters, ages eight and 12, have been left without parents.
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 a coup attempt that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Purge victims who wanted to flee the country to avoid the post-coup crackdown took dangerous journeys across the Evros River or the Aegean Sea. Some were arrested by Turkish security forces; some were pushed back to Turkey by Greek security; and others perished on their way to Greece.
The purge victims had to leave the country illegally because the government had revoked their passports.
According to the latest report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), titled “Pushbacks of Turkish asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey: Violation of the principle of non-refoulement,” the pushbacks, particularly of Turkish asylum seekers, violate the principles of international and European Union law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits returning refugees to a country where they would face persecution.