The Turkish Parliament removed from a bill that was passed on Thursday an article postponing the prison sentences of mothers with children under 15 years of age whose husbands are also in prison, according to Turkish media.
The article was part of a bill aimed at making improvements to the law on execution of sentences. The bill was approved by the legislature after the article was removed. According to Bold Medya, 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.
The young boy was separated from his parents and made to endure the critical illness alone. “According to his psychologist, Hakan, once an active child, withdrew into himself following the latest developments because he tries to carry his own burden as well as that of his sister and parents, and he can’t do it,” Hakan’s grandfather said.
Hakan’s grandparents, who are his current caregivers, said he was depressed and had lost the will to live. His grandparents, and many other human rights activists, have pleaded with authorities to release Hakan’s mother at least so she could be by his side.
Hakan’s mother was sentenced to six years, 10 months in prison and his father to 19 years for alleged links to the Gülen movement.
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.
According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.