Turkish court denies request by cancer patient boy’s jailed father for release

Ender Özkul, the jailed father of a 13-year-old cancer patient who has failed to respond to treatment so far, was denied release from prison by a local Turkish court once more on Wednesday.

Muhammed Eray Özkul, the 13-year-old son of the Zonguldak-based former police officer Ender Özkul, was diagnosed with cancer after his father was jailed as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The father used to work as a police officer for 15 years until he was suspended on the accusations of having links to the Gülen movement on Sept, 2016 and arrested shortly after over the same ground. While in jail pending trial, he was completely removed from the job in a government decree in late November, the same year.

“Please release me for a trial without arrest. I am not about escaping my country for which I served for years. My wife and children need me so much,” the father earlier told the human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

“[The court ruled for] the continuation of arrest. May you the tyrants be drowned in Eray’s tears,” the boy’s mother tweeted on Wednesday.

Ender Özkul’s latest hearing, in which 70 others stand trial, took place on January 8-10, 2018.

“Eray has been asking again and again what is up with the hearing. He fell asleep out of boredom,” the mother said Jan. 9.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Tuesday. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

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