Seriously ill 63-year-old kept behind bars on Gülen links

Ramazan Taşkıran, a 63-year-old man suffering from severe kidney disease and disabilities, is being held in prison on conviction of links to the Gülen movement, despite having to undergo dialysis on a regular basis, the TR724 news website reported on Monday.

The report said that Taşkıran is serving a nine-year sentence on Gülen links, which was handed down on terrorism-related charges due to his membership in a Gülen-affiliated association of businesspeople as well as for serving in the position of regional director at the Zaman newspaper between 1995 and 1999.

Excerpt from Taşkıran’s court file explaining the grounds for his conviction

Excerpt from Taşkıran’s court file explaining the grounds for his conviction

He needs dialysis on a regular basis, and any interruption in the treatment can lead to life-threatening complications, the report said.

His daughters Seniha, Rana, Meryem and Yasemin have been campaigning on social media to raise awareness about his plight and to call on the authorities to postpone the execution of his sentence.

Yasemin Taşkıran said her father even has difficulty holding the phone during their conversations, asking how he is supposed to take care of himself in prison.

“My father’s situation is getting worse with each passing day. Please do something before he dies,” said Seniha Taşkıran.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the 2013 corruption investigations, 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 the 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.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

Turkish authorities are often accused of disregarding the situation of sick prisoners, especially those jailed on political grounds such as Gülen links and pro-Kurdish political activism.

Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, a former police inspector suffering from asthma and diabetes, was famously found dead in a quarantine cell with his lifeless body slumped on a chair.

In recent years the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK), the agency consulted for its medical expertise in the cases of sick prisoners, has been accused of complicity in the continued detention of sick prisoners, with its questionable reports that found ailing inmates fit to remain behind bars. Prominent Turkish human rights advocates have accused the institution of having lost all independence from the government.

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