Pregnant woman sent to prison over Gülen links despite regulations

Huriye Acun, a seven months pregnant former teacher, was arrested in the city of Konya on Wednesday and sent to prison to serve the sentence she was handed down due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Acun was convicted on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to nine years, four months in prison. Her case is pending appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, 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.

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.”

Yet the Turkish authorities have been detaining and arresting pregnant women and women with newborns. The issue was taken to the Board of Judges and Prosecutors [HSK] by human rights defender and former MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

According to a report by Solidarity with OTHERS, a nongovernmental organization that mainly consists of political exiles from Turkey, a total of 219 pregnant women and women with children under six years of age were arbitrarily detained or arrested over their suspected links to the Gülen movement.

Such daily activities as having an account at or depositing money in a Gülen movement-affiliated bank, working at any institution linked to the movement or subscribing to certain newspapers and magazines were accepted as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged members of the movement.

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