Turkish gov’t puts 669th baby behind bars over his parents’ alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government put the 669th baby behind the bars as his father and mother were arrested and sent to jail as part of massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

While Turkish police keeping watch for pregnant women at hospital gates, the number of babies in Turkish prisons is rapidly increasing. The couple of Esra Pektaş and Davut Pektaş was taken into custody together with their two-month-old infant Ahmet Haşim. With the arrest of the family, Ahmet Haşim has become the 669th baby who entered the prison. Esra Pektaş, a housewife, was sent to Bolu Prison with her 2-month-old baby.

Meanwhile, Büşra Atalay, a pregnant woman with 6 month of twin babies, was detained by police at Yüzyıl Hospital in İstanbul’s Pendik district where she went for check up. Atalay, who puked while police began to take the statement, was taken to the Medicalpark Hospital.

The mother who was in the early birth process was taken to the emergency caesarean surgery. During this process she lost one of her babies, the girl. The other baby is reportedly in intensive care. The police still waits at the door in order to detain.

It was also reported that the facilities provided to pregnant women and the women having babies under who were imprisoned in contravention of the laws are very limited. Many prisons are struggling to meet the needs of babies. In some prisons, 20 female prisoners with 4 infants have to stay in 8-person ward. Some women lye with a baby on a blanket laid on the concrete floor.

According to accounts of those who released from the prisons, the crib rate for babies is very low, the mother and the baby are lying together in the bunk. They need to entrust their babies to their friends in order to use the bathroom. There are no additional foods such as yogurt, eggs or soup to be given to babies. There are no areas where children would crawl and play. Needs like baby cloth, wet wipes are delayed for weeks and given insufficiently. Infants who have fever or are sick can have up to one day waiting time to go to the hospital. Needs like a walker are not given. There is no additional time for babies in open visit.

Following the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 about 18,000 women with 669 babies were jailed over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Women are being accused of giving scholarships, arranging sales, depositing money into Bank Asda, sending their children the schools affiliated with the Gülen movement, subscribing to Zaman and Bugün newspapers, using smart phone messaging application ByLock.

Women who come to hospitals for birth control or birth are clear target for the police officers. However, according to the Turkish Penal Code numbered 5275, “the sentence of imprisonment is left behind / postponed of women who are pregnant or have not passed six months since the conception of birth.” Experts say that according to the law, the arrest of pregnant women and those who have infants smaller than six months is not possible at all. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) also takes born or unborn child under protection.

More than 18,000 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 revealed.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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