Turkish gov’t detains couple over alleged Gülen links, leaves 3 and 5-year-old daughters alone

Turkish police detained Harun Başaran, who used to be health, culture and sport director of the now-closed Başarı University in Samsun province, and his wife Sibel Başaran on Saturday and left the couple’s 3 and 5-year-old daughters behind alone.

Sibel Başaran, a French language teacher by trade, has long been a housewife. After the detention of the Başaran couple as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, their two daughters were entrusted to the care of their relatives.

Samsun’s private Başarı University was shuttered by government decree under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Women who have been jailed in an 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.

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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “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.”

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