Ekrem, a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler, and his four-year-old sister Zülal became separated from not just one but both their parents when their mother was arrested as part of a crackdown in Turkey targeting followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Bold Medya news website.
İlayda and Hasan Tekgöz are accused of links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by US based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Ekrem and Zülal’s mother, formerly a math teacher working at a prep school linked to the movement, was initially detained on July 19, 2019, two hours after giving birth to her son, and was released and placed under judicial supervision shortly afterwards.
Thirty-two-year-old İlayda was arrested by the İstanbul 28th High Criminal Court on Tuesday due to the existence of a flight risk and sent to İstanbul’s Bakırköy Closed Women’s Prison, where children are not allowed to accompany their mothers due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.
Accusations directed at the mother were based on her use of the ByLock messaging app, possession of an account at Bank Asya, a now-closed commercial bank affiliated with the Gülen movement, and a witness statement.
İlayda’s husband Hasan, a mechanical engineer, was also arrested in February 2020 and sentenced to six years, 10 months in prison. He has been in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison for the past 11 months.
“Two more children were separated from their mother today! What is this for?” Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), tweeted on Tuesday.
Gergerlioğlu, also a member of parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Committee, formerly stated that the arrest of both parents, which shatters families, is a “method of punishment” systematically imposed by Erdoğan’s AKP government.