Zeynep Doğan (33), who is seven months pregnant, and her husband Ahmet Doğan (39) were detained on Friday and were forced to leave their three children under the age of nine behind, Bold Medya reported.
Zeynep Doğan, a dental technician, suffers from such complications as gestational diabetes and rheumatism and was released. Ahmet Doğan was a teacher at a private educational institution that was shut down by the Turkish government without due process for alleged connections with the Gülen movement. He is currently in jail awaiting his first court appearance.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist and a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), raised concerns over the couple on Twitter. “Another sad story! Three little children left without their parents. I hope they can at least have their mother back.” Gergerlioğlu tweeted.
The Turkish government has been arresting pregnant women as it intensifies a crackdown on dissidents. Hatice Aydın, 11 weeks pregnant, was arrested in June. According to her husband, she was taking medication due to the risk of miscarriage.
Sehat Sarı was also arrested in Ankara in June. Sarı was five months pregnant and had a miscarriage in the past and was still at risk of suffering another one.
Hanife Çiftçi, who was jailed in June 2019 when she was seven weeks pregnant due to her alleged links to the Gülen movement, lost her unborn baby and was sent back to prison from the hospital the same day.
Gergerlioğlu launched a campaign on Change.com in 2018 for the release of pregnant women from Turkish prisons.
According to the Law on the Execution of Sentences and Security Measures, even if a pregnant woman is convicted, her sentence must be postponed. The law stipulates that “execution of the prison sentence is delayed for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the last year and a half.”
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 540,000 people were detained on terrorism-related charges, more than 80,000 were arrested or imprisoned and over 150,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations.” The purge mainly targeted people who were allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement but included other people from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.