Thirty-year-old mother detained by Turkish police during her husband’s funeral

Thirty-year-old Esra Çelik was detained by Turkish police on Sunday as she was attending in the funeral of her husband Mehmet Çelik (30), who lost his life since he could not get appropriate treatment as he was wanted by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

It was reported by online news outlet TR724 on Sunday that since he has been wanted by Turkish government authorities Mehmet Çelik, who had bronchiectasis, did not get appropriate treatment and he passed away during his second surgical operation. A funeral was organised for him in southeastern Hatay province on Sunday.

However, Çelik family has lived a second suffering during the funeral ceremony at the cemetery. Mehmet Çelik’s wife Esra Çelik, mother of 2-year-old boy Yusuf, was detained at the cemetery and transferred to western Manisa province by the police. The Çelik couple’s 2-year-old son Yusuf had to be left to the care of relatives. The incident has attracted widespread criticism on social media.

Reacting to this cruel act, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, former chairman of the human rights organizsation Mazlum-Der and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) parliamentary candidate, stated on his Twitter account that “Detention in the cemetery and an abandoned 2-year-old kid… There is no limit for cruelty… I have no word to say in face of these scenes. Which conscience can not feel agony?”

Esra Çelik was released on Monday after giving her testimony to a prosecutor in Manisa province.

Mehmet Çelik

The women have been accused of providing scholarships, arranging sales, depositing money in private lender Bank Asya, sending their children to schools affiliated with the Gülen movement, subscribing to the Zaman or Bugün newspapers or using the ByLock smartphone messaging application. Women who go to hospitals seeking birth control or to give birth have also been targets of the massive post-coup witch hunt conducted by the Erdoğan government.

Women and mothers who have been jailed in the unprecedented crackdown have been subjected to torture and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear released in April 2017 by SCF revealed.

In several cases, mothers were detained in the hospital immediately after the delivery of a baby and before they had a chance to recover. Many mothers were jailed as they were visiting their imprisoned husbands, leaving the children stranded in the ensuing chaos.

In a 28-page report issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in March 2018 emphasised on the detention, arrest and torture of pregnant women and children in Turkey in 2017.

The report said that “OHCHR estimates that approximately 600 women with young children were being held in detention in Turkey as of December 2017, including about 100 women who were pregnant or had just given birth.

“OHCHR documented at least 50 cases of women who had given birth just prior to or just after being detained or arrested. OHCHR received a report concerning a woman who was sexually assaulted by a police officer during arrest. Moreover, NGOs brought to the attention of OHCHR at least six cases of women who were detained while they were visiting their spouses in prison. They were either detained together with their children or violently separated from them.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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