Nurse to serve sentence on Gülen link conviction despite severe illness

Havva Dönmez, a nurse struggling with thyroid cancer for the past three years, was imprisoned on Tuesday after an appeals court upheld her six year, three month sentence for membership in a terrorist organization, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Dönmez is a mother of two, an 11-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy. She was transferred to Edirne Prison and will be kept in a quarantine cell in for two weeks before being released into the general prison population.

Her husband Bekir was also convicted of alleged membership in the Gülen movement and imprisoned in the same city.

Dönmez worked in state hospitals in Gaziantep and Adana provinces before her dismissal by a state of emergency decree.

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 a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights defender and deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing party with majority-Kurdish support, has been criticizing authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners until it is too late for them to receive effective treatment.

“They refuse to release the prisoners until it comes to the point of no return. They only release the prisoners when they realize they will die soon, not wanting them to die in prison,” he once said.

He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals or infirmaries.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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