Turkish gov’t keeps woman with heavy Alzheimer’s in jail for 15 months over witness’ statements

Turkish government has jailed Fatma Bektaş, who has many illnesses such as heavy Alzheimer’s, cardiac and herniated disc, pending trial for 15 months. Bektaş, who has even forgotten his defence during the hearings in the court, has been ruled by the court for continuation of detention on each trial, according to a report by Yeni Asya daily.

According to the report, Fatma Bektaş, who was arrested on a witness statement, does not even remember why she was in jail, she can not defend herself, but she has been under arrest for months.

During the massive post-coup witch hunt campaign carried out by the Turkish government against alleged members of the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, tens of thousands of people were taken into custody and arrested regardless of overaged, sick, pregnant, puerperant and this campaign led to massive victimization. Fatma Bektaş having Alzheimer’s and cardiac patient, who has been kept in Bakırköy Closed Women’s Prison, is just one of them.

Bektaş, 48-year-old woman, was working voluntarily in the cafeteria of İzmir Raif Cilasun Quran Course affiliated with the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and she has been in prison for 15 months due to the statements of a witness. It was reported that Bektaş suffering from Alzheimer and occasionally forgets why she is under detention there and wants to be released in crying fit.

Bektaş was detained together with other female officers in the Quran Course on September 27, 2016, and was arrested on September 30, 2016. The first hearing on July 5, 2017 was delayed 4 and half months, while the second hearing on November 22, 2017 was postponed 4 and half months again. Despite the fact that the witnesses who participated in the hearings were unable to prove his/her accusation, Fatma Bektaş’s requests for release from prison have always rejected.

According to a report by Yeni Asya daily, Fatma Bektaş had also a heart attack during her imprisonment, and she was detained again three days after her stay in the hospital. She has also reportedly vaginal bleeding due to cysts in her ovaries, but her detention in prison was continued. The bleeding caused by the cyst kept going for another two months. So far, all release requests due to health have been rejected by the court.

Bektaş’s husband said that she had previously herniated disk surgery and was having regular treatment due to her ongoing pains. However, the treatments of sicknesses such as the cysts on her ovaries, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and the heart attack during examination in police headquarter were neglected. All requests for conditional release have also not taken into consideration for the treatment.

Bektaş has been accused of alleged use of ByLock. However, her husband said that “There is no any criminal element found in her body search or her residence search, and there is no ByLock record. She is a housewife and a high school graduate. She has 2 married and one single children. Her children studied in public schools and work in the private sector and live in İzmir. Officially, she works in the Quran course affiliated with Diyanet as a volunteer and helps the who studying Quran for the sake of God.”

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The ill-treatment for Bektaş was not limited to this. Bektaş was also taken on the night before her trial July 5, 2017, without being given any reason from İzmir to İstanbul, Bakırköy Closed Women’s Prison by 8-hour travel without giving a break and without knowing where they were going after 10 months of her imprisonment in İzmir jail.

Bektaş’s ward mates state that she forgets to use her medication and is unable to sleep because of the sleep-talk and herniated disk pains. The waist corset, she could use while in İzmir prison, was reportedly not allowed in the Bakırköy Prison and that’s why her pains increased even more.

It was reported that Bektaş, who is in need of care, cannot maintain her daily life without the help of her ward friends. It is said that she does not even count money for the canteen without helps of her friends and she reportedly forgot the location of her ward for a couple of times.

More than 17,000 women in Turkey, many with small children, have been jailed in an unprecedented crackdown and 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 by SCF has also 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 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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