Mother of boy who recently died of cancer detained on Gülen conviction

The mother of Yusuf Kerim Sayın, who died of bone cancer last week, was detained on Monday by police in Turkey’s Sakarya province to finish serving a sentence on conviction of alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Tr724 news website reported

Gülten Sayın and her husband Süleyman Sayın were stopped by police while they were travelling in their car. According to a tweet posted by her husband, his wife was taken to a police station and was reportedly later transported to Sakarya Ferizli Prison. 

The grieving mother was previously serving a sentence of six years, three months on conviction of alleged links to the Gülen movement, for working at a student dormitory that was subsequently closed down due to its affiliation with the movement. Her sentence was postponed so she could be with her son as he battled Ewing’s sarcoma, one of the deadliest types of bone cancer. 

Yusuf Kerim became a symbol for activists who campaigned for the release of mothers with critically ill children. The public campaigns led to legislation allowing for the postponement of sentences for women whose children are suffering from illness. The law was enacted in April and led to Gülten Sayın’s release.

In another social media post this morning, Süleyman Sayın said the gendarmerie had also come by their house looking for his wife. 

“I suppose the police and the gendarmerie are not communicating,” he said. “They came to our house looking for her, but I told them she was with the police, probably being transferred to prison.” 

In response to Süleyman Sayın’s post, many people expressed sadness that the mother had been detained so soon after her son’s passing. 

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 in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

There is currently no data on the number of sick children whose mothers are in prison. However, activists say the post-coup purge has taken a huge toll on human life, and especially children. Several children have succumbed to their illnesses while their parents were incarcerated on terrorism-related charges.

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