Paralyzed inmate sent back to prison 3 days after major surgery

Şerife Sulukan, 45, a paralyzed woman serving time on conviction of affiliation with the Gülen movement who underwent major heart surgery on Monday, was sent back to prison on Thursday, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Sulukan was hospitalized three weeks ago at Katip-Çelebi Hospital in İzmir after her condition deteriorated in prison.

Since then neither the hospital nor the prison administration has provided further information about Sulukan’s situation despite her family’s repeated requests. “All we know is that my mother had surgery on Monday and was put in intensive care. On October 4 we were told that they cannot provide information due to the official protocols. We haven’t heard from her for over three weeks,” said Sulukan’s son.

Sulukan, a former teacher who has been suffering from paralysis for more than a year, was sent to prison in early May after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a six year, three month prison sentence on conviction of affiliation with the movement.

In June 2022 Sulukan suffered an epileptic seizure in prison. In a letter to Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, Sulukan said she did not have access to proper medical care in prison.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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 on July 15, 2016.

There have even been cases when women arrested on Gülen links died in jail after they were denied critical medication by the prison authorities or when women were sent to jail immediately after delivery with their newborns, contrary to the law.

Turkey’s women rights organizations and opposition parties are criticized for turning a blind eye to the plight of these women and not raising their voices against their imprisonment on what many say are politically motivated charges.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!