The grandmother of two children who were left without parents after both their mother and father were arrested for alleged links to the Gülen movement said the last five years have been extremely difficult, the Bold Medya news website reported.
Mikail Baran was arrested in 2018, after which his wife Esra Baran took care of their children with the help of her mother. However, in December 2022 Esra Baran was also arrested and sent to a prison in Manisa province. Since her arrest, the young children’s grandmother has been taking care of the children on her own.
“It had already been difficult without their father. We were financially and mentally worn down, but now my daughter is also in prison, and I don’t know what to do,” said the children’s grandmother.
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. He locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.
Erdoğan 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.
The elderly woman called on Turkish authorities to immediately release her daughter in a video posted on social media.
İki çocuk annesi, Esra Baran 1 Aralık’ta tutuklandı. Manisa E Tipi Cezaevi’nde.
Annesi: “Bu çocukların anneannesiyim. Beş yıldır babaları yok, içerde. Şimdi de annelerini aldılar. Bizi çok mağdur ettiler maddî manevî.”
Yılmaz Erdoğan Levent Kırca Red Kit Samsun #borsa #TelAviv pic.twitter.com/vZektXMHCs
— Cezaevi İhlalleri (@cezaeviihlaller) March 27, 2023
In 2021 the Turkish Parliament removed from a bill an article postponing the prison sentences of mothers with children under 15 years of age whose husbands are also in prison.
The article was part of a proposal aimed at making improvements to the law on the execution of sentences. The bill was approved by the legislature after the article was removed. The amendment would have reunited some 3,000 imprisoned women with their children.
The proposal was drafted after an outcry concerning the condition of 11-year-old Hakan Dağdeviren, who was diagnosed with leukemia after his parents’ arrest.