Turkish authorities on Wednesday arrested a father of three for alleged links to the Gülen movement, leaving his children without any parents, the Tr724 news website reported.
Metin Yıldız was sent to prison in central Turkey’s Konya province after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a six year, three month prison sentence. He was accused of working at a private tutoring center affiliated with the movement. His wife, Dudu Yıldız, was arrested on similar charges in August 2021 and is currently in prison.
The children, who are all under the age of 10, have been left to the care of their elderly grandmother.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), expressed outrage over the father’s arrest on Twitter.
“The mother is already in prison, and now so is the father,” he said. “The children are left to the care of their grandmother. What will happen to these children? What about their mental health?”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group 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.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.
The purge has damaged the unity of many families and left children to the care of relatives. Such separations have had a negative impact on the mental and physical well-being of children. In cases where grandparents are responsible for the child’s care, they cannot meet every need, especially in education.